850,000 penalties to be issued for late tax returns

11:37am Monday 20th February 2012

A TOTAL of 850,000 penalties for late tax returns will be issued over the next fortnight - 550,000 fewer than the same time last year, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) announced today.

Letters containing the £100 late-filing penalties are being sent to people who failed to send their 2010/11 Self Assessment returns to HMRC on time.

Anyone who still has not sent their return to HMRC should do so now or risk further penalties. For example, anyone whose return is more than three months late will be charged an additional £10 penalty for each day it remains outstanding, up to a maximum of 90 days.

Although the deadline for receiving online returns was January 31, this year HMRC is not issuing penalties to people who sent their 2010/11 return online on February 1 or 2, following strike action at HMRC’s call centres on January 31.

People who get a late-filing penalty can appeal against it if they think they have a reasonable excuse for not sending back their tax return in time or they think a penalty should not have been issued for any other reason. Appeals should be made in writing by March 31.

Examples of a reasonable excuse could include a family illness or bereavement or a delay in HMRC sending out an online activation code. More information is available at hmrc.gov.uk/online/excuse-missed-deadline.htm.

Under a new initiative to help its customers, HMRC has confirmed that anyone who receives a penalty, but who believes they do not need to be in Self Assessment, can call the department on 0845 900 0444. If HMRC agrees, the return and the penalty will be cancelled.

Full details are contained in a leaflet that will accompany the penalty notice. Alternatively, visit hmrc.gov.uk/latetaxreturn for further information.

HMRC’s Stephen Banyard said: “We want the returns, not the penalties so anyone who still hasn’t sent theirs should do so as soon as possible.

“People who receive a penalty notice should act now to avoid further penalties. They should send in their return, appeal if they think they have a reasonable excuse or contact us if they think they shouldn’t have been in Self Assessment.”

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