Late penalties for 2020/21 tax returns

Late filing and payment penalties relaxed for self-assessment returns for the year ended 5 April 2021, due to be filed by 31 January 2022

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HMRC has issued the following letter to assist accountants who may be struggling to cope with the self assessment filing deadline coming up at the end of the month.

As the Income Tax Self-Assessment filing and payment deadline of 31 January draws closer, I know that the latest developments in the Covid pandemic are causing concerns and problems for taxpayers and agents. I therefore wanted to contact you directly following HMRC’s announcement today that we will not charge: 

  1. late filing penalties for those who file online by 28 February 2022 
  2. late payment penalties for those who pay the tax due in full or set up a payment plan by 1 April 2022. 

This will give SA taxpayers and their representatives additional time if they need it. Your members are once again at the forefront of advice for affected taxpayers, and we know that this, along with likely staff absences in January, will have an impact on their capacity to meet the 31 January deadline. 

We think it is reasonable to conclude that significant numbers of taxpayers will have a valid, Covid-related reasonable excuse for filing or paying late, so it is more sensible not to charge the penalties for a short period rather than rely on the usual appeal route. 

The waivers will operate in the same way as last year. We are not moving the filing or payment deadline and other self-assessment obligations are unchanged. Interest will be charged as usual from 1 February on outstanding amounts.  

I would value your support in getting the message out that taxpayers should file and pay on time where possible, but this easement is there for those experiencing difficulty.  

Our Time to Pay options are still available to assist customers.  Once they have filed their 2020-21 tax return, customers can set up an online payment plan to spread Self-Assessment bills of up to £30,000 over up to 12 monthly instalments.  

We expect the extra month will help most people. We do not believe that a longer extension is necessary. By the end of February last year, we had reached broadly the same filing position as we normally reach by the end of January.  If customers still cannot file by 28 February or pay (or set up a payment plan) by 1 April, the usual right of appeal against any penalty will be available, with Covid as a possible reasonable excuse.  

I very much hope that you will welcome this decision.

Jim Harra, chief executive and first permanent secretary, HMRC

Find out how to use the bulk appeals facility for late filing of returns due to Covid-19-related reasonable excuses.