Self Assessment season can be a stressful time for anyone racing to submit their tax return by the 31 January deadline.
But for the 2019/20 tax year, HMRC has offered a lifeline, in light of the coronavirus disruption. If you submit your tax return online by midnight on 28 February 2021, you won’t incur a late penalty. Due to the “immense pressure that many people are facing in these unprecedented times”, HMRC has made this one-off rule change.
To be clear, HMRC isn’t extending the Self Assessment deadline. Rather, those who submit their returns online up to a calendar month late won’t be fined. However, HMRC has made it clear that if you can submit your Self Assessment tax return by 31 January, you should do so.
When it comes to filing by post, as the deadline for sending tax returns via this method was on 31 October 2020, postal submissions aren’t included here. While the paper-based tax return for a registered pension scheme is 31 January, HMRC’s announcement is just for online tax return filing.
What usually happens with penalties?
In normal circumstances, if you had missed the 31 January deadline to submit your Self Assessment tax return, you’d be issued with an automatic £100 fine. And depending on how much later your tax return was submitted, the fine could be even larger.
While that’s changed for this year, if you file your tax return after 28 February 2021 then you’ll receive the £100 fine. However, if you have a good excuse for filing your tax return late, it’s worth speaking to HMRC to let them know – and they may waive the fine.
Paying tax bills
While you’ve got more time to submit your tax return, the same can’t be said for paying your tax bill. The deadline to do so remains as 31 January 2021. If you pay your bill after this date, you’ll be liable to pay interest on your payment.
One thing you can do is spread your tax bill payment across 2021, using monthly payments. This was announced as part of the government’s Winter Economy Plan, which was unveiled in 2020 as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. To access this service, you need to have filed your tax return by 31 January 2021. You can’t delay your submission and agree on an instalment payment plan.
Get in touch with HMRC via its Self Assessment Payment Problems helpline, on 0300 200 3822, and you can request a Time To Pay plan, as was announced in the Winter Economy Plan. You can also apply online if you’re eligible.
If you haven’t yet filed your tax return and need support to do so by 28 February, it’s worth reaching out to an accountant. As experts on all things tax – and a lot more – a good accountant will provide you with the advice and support you need to correctly submit your return.
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