Remember the January self-assessment deadline

by Michael Blaken

Published on 7th December 2020

Many of us will be more than happy to put 2020 behind us, but if you are in self-assessment, before you settle down for the Christmas and New Year celebrations, do remember that early on in 2021, you have a deadline to meet.

January self-assessment deadline

Because 31 January 2021 is an important date in the tax calendar – it’s the deadline for filing tax returns. If you’ve yet to file your tax return for 2019/20, then make sure you do so before midnight on 31 January – or you will incur an automatic £100 penalty, even if there is no tax due.

If you continue to delay, you face an escalating scale of penalties:

  • after three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • after six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months.

It’s also important to note that if you are in a partnership, then all the partners could individually face penalties if a partnership tax return is late.

Is there a system for appeals?

HMRC does have a system in place for you to appeal against a fine imposed, if you have been unable to file your tax return. These might include:

  • if your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • you had a serious or life-threatening illness
  • your computer or software failed just before, or while, you were preparing your online return
  • you had service issues with HMRC online services
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • delays related to a disability you have

This year, HMRC may also take into account if you have been affected by Coronavirus. However, the following will not count at genuine excuses:

  • you relied on someone else to send your return and they did not
  • your cheque bounced or payment failed because you did not have enough money
  • you found the HMRC online system too difficult to use
  • you did not get a reminder from HMRC
  • you made a mistake on your tax return

Believe it or not, these are some of the more bizarre excuses that HMRC has – not surprisingly – rejected. We hasten to add, these were not from any of our clients:

  • My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
  • I’m too short to reach the post box
  • I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn
  • Our junior member of staff registered our client in self-assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses
  • My boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type

Our advice here from the Optimum accountancy team is, if you have yet to file your tax return, do so without delay – you cannot guarantee that your mitigating circumstances will be accepted. And of course, it also means you will have the tax return submission out of the way before Christmas and the New Year.

Our Swindon accountants specialise in tax planning and accountancy for business owners across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and the South West. Please just get in touch if you have any tax queries, or need assistance with self-assessment.

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