No late filing penalty on income tax returns filed by 28 February

Jan 25, 2021

HMRC has just announced that late filing penalties will not apply to 2019/20 income tax returns filed by 28 February. Earlier this month the Institute’s President Paul Henry wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for a concession on the income tax deadline in light of the rampant nature of COVID-19 and the lockdown announced in early January.  Chartered Accountants Ireland also made representations to Minister Diane Dodds and Minster Conor Murphy.  In a new survey of NI members, over 85 percent of respondents say an automatic suspension of late filing penalties or a deadline extension is necessary given the extraordinary pressures facing businesses and accountants.  Today’s announcement by HMRC is practical and helpful to all concerned - taxpayers, accountants and HMRC. 

HMRC’s press release is available here.  Jim Harra, Chief Executive of HMRC also wrote to Chartered Accountants Ireland and other professional bodies on this latest announcement noting that “this easement applies only to the initial £100 late filing penalty.  We are not moving the filing deadline and other self-assessment obligations are unchanged, including the obligation to pay on time.  I would value your support in getting the message out that taxpayers should file and pay on time where possible.” 

Over 50 percent of chartered accountants surveyed last week said that their firm was incredibly busy and that the workload was unmanageable.  In addition to the challenges of working and living under pandemic lockdown conditions, accountants also have increased workloads helping businesses with Government Covid-19 supports.  Nearly all respondents (99 percent) to the survey have clients claiming Government Covid-19 supports administered by HMRC and over 80 percent say that their clients need a high degree of assistance in claiming these supports.  Communicating with HMRC is also a problem with 96 percent of those surveyed saying it is more difficult to make contact with HMRC than this time last year.