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Tax returns: 2.3 million Brits missed self assessment deadline

·3-min read
2.3 million Brits missed self assessment tax deadline
More than 10.2 million customers did meet the deadline and filed their 2020/21 tax returns by 31 January. Photo: Getty

An estimated 2.3 million Brits failed to file their self assessment tax returns by the 31 January deadline, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC has, like last year, waived penalties on late tax returns until 28 February and late tax payments until 1 April.

This means that those who missed the deadline will not receive a late filing penalty if they file by 28 February. Similarly, anyone who cannot pay their tax liabilities by the 31 January will not receive a late payment penalty if they pay their tax in full, or set up a payment arrangement, by 1 April.

However, self-assessors will still be charged 2.75% interest on unpaid tax from 1 February.

More than 10.2 million customers did meet the deadline and filed their 2020/21 tax returns by 31 January, with over 630,000 customers filing on the day of the deadline.

The busiest hour for filing was between 4pm and 5pm when 52,475 finished their self assessment. Some 20,947 filed their tax return between 11pm and midnight on 31 January.

More than 9.8 million returns were filed online — 95.6% of the total filed — while 452,629 paper tax returns were filed.

Read more: HMRC: Thousands could be missing out on claiming £2,000 for childcare costs

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “I’d like to thank the millions of customers and agents who sent us their tax return and paid in time for this week’s deadline.

“We’re waiving penalties this year, to give those who missed the deadline an extra month. And customers can set up a monthly payment plan online if they’re worried about paying their tax bill."

Consumer group Which? revealed that Brits were set to rack up 25 million hours filing tax returns, with the average time taken to complete a return coming in at more than two hours, in a survey of 4,000 self-assessors.

Some 8% of respondents said it took them more than five hours.

Those unable to pay their tax bill can split their bill into smaller instalments using HMRC's Time to Pay service. Self assessment taxpayers with up to £30,000 ($40,483) of tax debt can do this online once they have filed their return.

Self assessment timeline:

  • 31 January — self assessment deadline (filing and payment)

  • 1 February — interest accrues on any outstanding tax bills

  • 28 February —last date to file any late online tax returns to avoid a late filing penalty

  • 1 April — last date to pay any outstanding tax or make a Time to Pay arrangement, to avoid a late payment penalty

  • 1 April — last date to set up a self-serve Time to Pay arrangement online

Watch: What is national insurance and do I have to pay it?

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