Traditionally taxpayers failing to file their tax return on time are subject to a £100 fine.

However HMRC has confirmed individuals capable of supplying a ‘reasonable excuse’ for lateness are no longer subject to a fine.

In 2014 over 800,000 people received a tax return late submission penalty. This rise in late fees was largely due to rules requiring parents earning between £50,000 and £60,000 a year and claiming child benefit to submit a tax return.

HMRC claims it does not want to make honest taxpayers feel they are committing some sort of offence due to late submission. HMRC aims to focus its efforts on 'serious cases' of tax evasion instead.

If you have not submitted your tax return by 31st January then make sure you get your story straight! The ‘reasonable excuse’ threshold is easy to meet.

HMRC even lists examples of what constitutes a reasonable excuse on its website.

You still need an excuse

Example ‘reasonable excuses’ cited on HMRC's website include:

  • Your partner died shortly before deadline day
  • You were admitted into hospital
  • Your computer failed whilst you prepared your submission (hey an easy one to use!)
  • Service issues with HMRC’s online services (yet again an easy excuse!)

You submit your excuse with your appeal. If you do not appeal you must still pay the £100 fine. HMRC stresses excuses are only accepted if the tax return is late by a ‘day or two’.

Now the bad news

HMRC is expected to announce higher interest charges due on tax now due. What HMRC gives with one hand it is likely to take away with the other!

Please know by submitting your tax return late you forgo many of the benefits brought by early submission. Click here to learn the benefits of early tax return submission.

Kass Verjee
Kass Verjee

Kass is not only a qualified bookkeeper/accountant but he is also a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has a full practising certificate.