self assessment

5.7m yet to file self-assessment tax return as deadline looms 

Tax office issues advance warning of fines for late submission, despite record-breaking Christmas

HMRC has issued a warning to self-employed workers across the country that the self-assessment deadline is looming – with 5.7m yet to be filed.

The deadline for online submission of the self-assessment – 31st January – is approaching, with the deadline for paper submissions already having passed (31st October 2022).

While many are yet to file their tax return, a record number of self-employed workers took to the task on Christmas Day, with 3725 filed.

In total, 22,060 people filed their self-assessment tax return between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. A further 42,500 filed their tax return over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. 

The cost of late submission

However, with millions of tax returns still outstanding, HMRC has urged the self-employed to complete the self-assessment and pay their tax bills on time.

The self-assessment can be submitted online or on paper, but as the deadline has already passed (31st October), any paper submissions will be subject to a fine. Similarly, failure to file the self-assessment online before the deadline will incur a fine from HMRC.

The fines can be significant; filing after the deadline incurs an immediate £100 fine. Submissions that are more than three months late are subject to a £10 daily penalty, up to a maximum of £900, and a maximum total of £1000 (including the initial £100 fine).

After six months, an additional £300 or 5% of the total tax due (whichever is greater) is levied on top of the existing fine. At 12 months late, another 5% or £300 fine is issued, whichever is greater.

Fines a concern amid “challenging economic conditions”

As such, it’s important that the self-assessment is filed on time, to avoid undue stress and potential financial difficulties during already challenging times, says online accountancy firm QAccounting

“Given the difficult economic conditions that we’re seeing at the minute, late submission fines could be hugely damaging for self-employed workers, many of whom are still reeling from a difficult few years. 

“Ultimately, though, you can avoid these fines by getting your tax return sorted on time. The self-assessment can feel daunting, but if you’re not comfortable handling your own tax affairs, you should seek help from an expert.”

HMRC faces criticism for long wait times

Despite urging taxpayers to complete the self-assessment, the tax office has come under fire in recent weeks for failing to provide adequate service levels to its customers, with many unable to contact HMRC with queries. 

Some taxpayers experienced waiting an hour or longer on the phone to HMRC – while others had their phone calls terminated altogether, after considerable time spent on hold.

report in the Telegraph cites low levels of office occupancy and HMRC’s remote working policies as potential reasons for the fall in service levels. 

The criticism also follows what the Telegraph calls an “IT blunder” at the tax office, which prevented thousands of customers from accessing online services or contacting HMRC by phone in early December.

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