What to do if you missed the self-assessment tax return deadline

lovemoney staff
by Lovemoney Staff lovemoney staff on 01 February 2014  |  Comments 6 comments

The deadline for filing self-assessment tax returns has passed. If you missed it, here's what you should do right now.

What to do if you missed the self-assessment tax return deadline

The deadline for filing online self-assessment tax returns for the tax year 2012-13 passed at midnight last night (Friday). Due to the changes in Child Benefit eligibility, there was an extension granted for people who registered by then, and they now have until 15th February to file.

If you didn't register or file by the deadline, you're now looking at financial penalties, but if you act now you can limit these. Here's what to do.

Penalties

HMRC is enforcing an initial penalty of £100 for people who didn't even register. This fine even applies if you don't actually have any additional tax to pay.

From here, if the return is more than three months late you’ll receive a £10 daily charge for up to 90 days – that’s £900 maximum. If you are six months late an additional £300 will be added or 5% of your tax liability; whichever is higher. For non-submitters who reach January 2014, another £300 or 5% will be slapped on.

This gives a total potential penalty of £1,600 – even for those who have no tax to pay but still submit late. Needless to say, if your tax return is still sitting on your to do pile, get it done now!

Excuses

HMRC is taking a tough approach to this year’s tax return process. So if you have not yet filed but need to and have no credible excuse, you’ll really just have to cough up.

But what counts as a credible – or to use HMRC’s language, reasonable – excuse in the eyes of the powers-that-be?

Well, it’s all common sense really. The base definition is loosely: something that is unusual and out of your control. This doesn’t include forgetting about the deadline, finding the online system too complicated, being let down by an accountant or not registering at HMRC online by the filing deadline. Try any of these excuses and you’ll get short shrift from the taxman. We can only assume that the old classics: ‘my dog ate it’ or ‘I was abducted by aliens’ will also hold little water.

HMRC says examples of reasonable excuses include: failures in its own computer system, personal computer malfunctions, a serious illness or the failure to receive an activation code in time. However, they must be backed up with sufficient evidence and it must be clear that you have tried to the best of your abilities to submit the return.

This year's extreme weather will also be taken into consideration, providing you can prove it has prevented you from doing your return, for example because your home is flooded.

Contemporaneous evidence may also be required – doctors notes for illnesses and technician reports for hardware computer failures, for example.

However, HMRC did emphasise that it has no exhaustive list of reasonable excuses. So it’s safe to assume that each case will be examined on an individual basis.

What to do if you have no excuse

If you don't have a reasonable excuse, you should get on and file your return as soon as you can. If you haven't applied for an activation code to use the online service, do it now at the HMRC website.

If you need help, try the HMRC Self-Assessment Online Demonstrator or call the Self Assessment Helpline on 0845 900 0444 (open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-4pm Saturdays). You'll need your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number to hand.

This is a classic article that has been updated

More on tax

How to get your online self-assessment tax return right

How to make sure you’re on the right tax code

Working from home: how to get a tax rebate

How to get a tax refund

Beware this tax scam

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Comments (6)

  • DLZ
    Love rating 18
    DLZ said

    This is all a load of horse-dung. Of course it's bad to put it off, but no-one should have to in the first place. In stead of us all wasting time on collecting figures we don't understand or even know that we have to, they could just be sent straight to a computer at HMRC. They would do the calculation and send you a copy. If you disagree with the figures the burden should be on HMRC and the source of the figures to prove that they are correct or incorrect. And if either is proven to be wrong, THEY should be fined. It's not complicated and civilised nations do it. Why does everyone put up with this!?

    Report on 04 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • jennysue19
    Love rating 6
    jennysue19 said

    In April 2013 HMRC sent me a coding notice which alleged that due to underpayment of tax in a previous year, for sums they didn't identify, they were re-coding to collect it. I wrote back saying I didn't agree with their coding notice, and asking for more information. I am on my state pension now and theoretically out of tax altogether. They never replied or sent me a tax form, despite further letters with copies of the first, asking for explanations in August and October.

    I would think that if they now decide I do owe some tax (it is nearly 7 years since I last worked PAYE or had sufficient income from any source or combination of sources that would put me in tax), that this would be a reasonable excuse for not submitting a self-assessment. I believe that after 7 years they have no more rights to collect the money anyway. If that is the case, HMRC you have till 9th May!

    Surely it is reasonable that if they believe I have a tax liability, it is up to HMRC to send me a form for the appropriate year/s and to answer letters within a reasonable time frame. If there was any error in what was collected on my last PAYE job, it was the fault of the company concerned, because they had my correct tax code from day 1. In actual financial terms, any unpaid tax is going to be peanuts anyway because I was only on the National Minimum Wage. Why do HMRC make such an ass of themselves trying to collect sums that actually cost them more to collect than the actual revenue?

    Report on 01 February 2014  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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