Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Tuesday 3rd February, 2015
As many as 890,000 people around the UK are in line to be fined by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for failing to complete their self-assessment tax returns on time.
The deadline for sending in returns was midnight on January 31st and, while the vast majority were received on time, there are many thousands of returns still outstanding.
According to official HMRC figures, around 8 per cent of the 11.13 million tax returns due at the end of last month were not received as they should’ve been. However, there were a record number of self-assessment returns received and 210,000 more people sent their filings back to HMRC on time this year than last.
“We're grateful to the overwhelming majority of people who sent their returns on time,” said Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general of personal tax.
“If you’re one of the minority who missed the deadline, you still need to get your tax return to us as soon as possible, to avoid further penalties and interest mounting up.”
Anyone who was due to send back their self-assessment documentation but didn’t do so before the January 31st deadline will automatically be issued with a £100 fine from HMRC. Further late-filing fines will then be issued at a rate of £10 per day for anyone who still hasn’t filled out and sent back the relevant forms before the end of April 2015.
The initial late-filing fine of £100 is due even where individuals don’t actually owe any money in taxes. Anyone who fails to pay off the tax they owe can expect to be charged penalties of 5 per cent on unpaid tax amounts still owed after 30 days, 6 months and 12 months. However, anyone with a genuine reason for failing to file their tax returns or pay their taxes on time can potentially avoid be fined or hit with penalty charges by contacting HMRC and detailing their mitigating circumstances.
As well as explaining how many tax returns it has yet to receive, HMRC has revealed that the proportion of people filing their self-assessment paperwork online continues to increase considerably. So much so in fact that only 1.48 million returns were filed on paper, compared with 10.24 million that were completed online via the HMRC website.
Among those sending their returns in online, many left it late. According to the official figures, 42 per cent of all online returns were received during January and close to a million were sent back on the final two days of last month. Almost 50,000 returns were received between 1pm and 2pm on January 30th, which proved to be by far the busiest period for HMRC’s self-assessment returns website.