HMRC has said it will waive fines for the filing of some late tax returns, if the deadline is missed due to reasons relating to the coronavirus.
Usually, late filing leads to a fine of at least £100 ($136).
A HMRC spokesperson said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file on time even if they can’t pay their tax straight away, but where a customer is unable to do so because of the impact of COVID-19 we will accept they have a reasonable excuse and cancel penalties, provided they manage to file as soon as possible after that.
“Support is in place for those who may struggle to pay with customers able to spread their payment liabilities of up to £30,000 over 12 months.”
The tax office has made this move in recognition that many taxpayers may have difficulty submitting self-assessment returns due to the impact of COVID-19.
It is also looking into potential changes that could be made to make appeals easier and quicker for everyone involved and has already extended the appeal period to three months.
The move would mean that setbacks such as the pressures of homeschooling could be taken into account as reasons for missing a deadline.
Campaigners had argued that a third national lockdown “changed the playing field” and piled further pressure on small companies. They have called for more help and are in discussions with the tax authority, according to reports.
Before Christmas, HMRC said it would accept the current health crisis as a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline and would cancel penalties for genuinely affected taxpayers if they appealed. It has also extended the window for appeal to three months.
Around 55% of self assessment customers have already filed their return, however, more than a million missed the deadline last year. HMRC expects 12.1 million tax returns to be filed this year.
Those who are yet to file a return are being urged to act now, as it may be a more time-consuming process than anticipated.
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