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Self Assessment season is now well and truly over. While some accountants and business owners may be releasing a huge sigh of relief, others are still not off the hook.

This year, 746,000 business owners and contractors failed to meet the midnight deadline on January 31st. This means that around one in 15 self assessors still have their tax return hanging above their heads.

Those who submit their returns late face an automatic £100 penalty, not something you want to start the New Year off with. This is if the return is up to three months late. If you submit even later than this you could be subject to a penalty of £10 per day, usually up to a maximum of £900.

However, for those who have a reasonable excuse that prevented them from submitting on time, the fee may be waived. Reasonable excuses include bereavement, illness, computer failure, fires, floods or theft. You can see the full list here.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer services said: “We really don’t want penalties, we just want tax returns. If you’re one of the small number that missed the deadline, please submit your return now to avoid further penalties.”

Cutting it fine

According to the tax office, 758,707 people managed to just about complete their tax return on the last day before the deadline. Of these, 30,000 people did it between 11pm and 11.59pm.

While those that managed to submit are lucky, this is certainly not something to be advised. Anything could happen in that time period, your computer could crash, something else could distract you or there could be problems with the website you’re submitting to, possibly caused by a mass of panicked people trying to submit all at once.

The most popular hour for customers to submit was from 4pm to 5pm on January 31st. HMRC received a total of 60,596 returns in this time frame. That’s 1,010 per minute or 17 per second.

The UK tax authority did say that a record number managed to file on time. 10.7 million managed to submit details before the deadline but 6.5% missed it. However, this is less than the 7% that missed it last year.

New system plans

The government is currently working on plans for a points-based system, similar to the one for driving offences, so that late submissions are not subject to the automatic £100 fine.

Instead, people submitting late would receive points and have to pay fines after a certain threshold is reached. Points will also be wiped off the record once a certain period of time has passed.

The risk of this new system is that people might be more likely to miss the deadline, no longer deterred by a £100 fine. However, it’s a welcome relief for businesses struggling to meet the deadline who could do without a new fine to start off the year.


Are you struggling to meet Self Assessment deadlines? If you need an accountant to help keep you on track, you can grab a free quote from us here.

About The Author

Kara Copple

An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.

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