Is everything lost if you miss the tax return deadline?

/ Posted By - Bradleys Accountants / Categories - Tax Planning

So you think you are not going to make the 31st January and are wondering what to do? Well to start with, don’t worry. If you think you are not going to make it, take the following steps:

Don’t worry

Yes – don’t worry. If you file a couple of days late you won’t get thrown into prison. However you will definitely earn yourself a £100 penalty. Plus, any interest if you have failed to pay your tax on time.

But don’t procrastinate any further. Remember the longer you take to file a tax return, the more fines you will incur.

See a breakdown of penalties below:

  • An instant fine of £100 if you miss the January 31 deadline
  • A penalty of 5% of tax due if you fail to file within 30 days
  • If you don’t file by 30 April, you get a daily penalty of £10 per-day (for up to 90 days)
  • A £300 (or 5% of the tax you owe, whichever is greater) fine if you still haven’t filed after another 90 days
  • Another £300 (or 5% of the tax you owe, whichever is greater) if you haven’t filed within a year
  • More penalties – including up to 100% of the tax owed, if HMRC believed you are deliberately delaying

If HMRC fails to see your tax return within a year, you could be looking at a minimum fine of £1,600.

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    What counts as a reasonable excuse?

    You may escape a fine if you have what HMRC calls a ‘reasonable excuse’. It usually has be something major; take for instance taxpayers in the north affected by floods that hit the UK in December 2015. You can get in touch with HMRC and agree a new deadline. Some more examples include:
    • Recent death of a partner
    • Unexpected stay in a hospital
    • Life threatening illness
    • Computer or software failure while preparing
    • Service issues with HMRC’s online services
    • Fire, flood or theft
    • Postal delays not in your control
    However, HMRC won’t accept the following as reasonable excuses:
    • Your cheque bounced or payment failed due to lack of funds
    • You found HMRC’s online system difficult to use.
    • You didn’t get a reminder from HMRC
    • You relied on someone else (like an accountant or a friend) to send your tax return and they didn’t.

    File and pay as soon as you can

    The longer you delay filing and paying your tax, the more interest and penalties you will have to cough up. And if you persistently delay you are more likely to attract unwelcome attention from HMRC inspectors who might suspect that your records are not up to the required standard.

    Need some help?

    If you are likely to miss the deadline and need some additional help, have a look at these resources:

    6. Avoid HMRC’s infamous £100 penalty

    If you want people to do what you want, fines can be an incredibly useful tool. At least that’s what HMRC thinks. Filing early will help you avoid HMRC’s progressive late-filing penalty system:

    What this means is you will be looking at a minimum fine of £1,600 if HMRC fails to see your tax return within a year. Penalties are not the best way to spend your hard-earned cash. We think it’s better to pour yourself a cup of coffee and get started.

    7. Get professional advice at reasonable rates

    What is the one similarity between advisers and airlines? They both get expensive during peak seasons. Enrolling a professional to file on your behalf gets expensive as you move closer to the deadline mostly because existing clients get priority during tax season. Start looking now and you will have a better chance of finding the right professional. They will definitely charge you to file on your behalf, but it is also likely they will cut your bill by far more than they cost.

    It might surprise you that close to 870,000 taxpayers missed the deadline last year. If you think you will be one of them, get started now!

    If in doubt, call us on 020 8303 1287 or email

    8. So what’s changing?

    One of the biggest implication of MTD would be the end of the annual tax return. By 2020 most businesses, landlords and self-employed taxpayers will be required to manage their tax affairs online and update HMRC on at least a quarterly basis.

    HMRC has confirmed that this doesn’t mean you’ll have to complete four tax returns a year. You’ll simply have to update your information online more regularly.

    "By using both functional and expressive voices, we'll create more space for brand relevance, connection and joy."

    The guideline adds, “When we have the space, we tell a passionate coffee story. But even with just a few words, our copy can make you smile.”

    Similarly, Starbucks recently rebranded its logo to the simple Siren logo without the “Starbucks Coffee” wordmark wrapped around it. The company notes, “The preferred approach is to use the Siren logo by itself, unlocked from the wordmark. This allows flexibility to present the Siren with greater prominence while maintaining a considered, open and modern presentation.”

    Ultimately, this most recent Starbucks rebrand is simple and effective. Rather than moving too far in the opposite direction of the brand’s roots, the company sticks to its fundamental company vision while making slight alterations to continue serving the needs and preferences of its consumers.

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