HMRC’s Strict Liability Late Self-Assessment Filing Submissions Are ‘Nothing Short of Oppressive’, Claims Tax Reform Charity.

Have you ever been fined £100 by HMRC for the late filing of your self-assessment tax return?

Have you ever thought this penalty was unfairly levied, or did you think your reasonable excuses were ignore or disregarded? Well, sadly you are not alone.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group claimed as many as 1 million taxpayers suffered due to HMRC’s ruling.

 

It called the automatic £100 fine for the late submission of self-assessment tax returns “nothing short of oppressive”, and is calling on HM Customs and Revenues to scrap the punitive levy.

The charity, which represents taxpayers who cannot afford accountants or professional advisers, said that many people were being fined harshly. It claimed that many taxpayers missed the deadline because of unforeseen circumstances like ill-health, bereavement, and ignorance. The Low Income Tax Reform Group also claims that, according to a recent official consultation, an additional 200,000 people missed last year’s deadline simply because they failed to press the ‘submit’ button after filing their accounts online.

The same consultation also found that the vast majority of taxpayers who complied with the deadlines experienced “a very significant amount of distress, fear, and worry” due to the acceleration of penalties that could rise from £100 to up to £1,200 in a six-month period. Perhaps the biggest criticism of all is the fact that as many as a quarter of people required to fill in self-assessment tax returns have no liability or owe less than £50 in total. What’s more, since 2012 the automatic £100 penalty for late filing has been affecting people that may even not have owed tax. In these circumstances, the calls for reform of the current system are understandable.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group is therefore calling for more financial help, citing the fact that charities such as TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People are seeking £250,000 in additional funding to handle the growing demand for their services – having turned away more than 6,000 taxpayers last year.

Has HMRC actually taken on board any of these criticisms?

 

Well, it’s perhaps too soon to judge. However, HMRC has been taking a broader look at the automatic fine/ late penalty submission system. In February, HMRC revealed plans to ascertain “whether we could better differentiate between deliberate and persistent non-compliers, and those who might make an occasional error for whom alternative interventions are more appropriate”.

The tax authority added there are “’reasonable excuse’ provisions that can remove penalties, but the rules may need updating to better support those genuinely wanting to comply”.

If you’d like any further information on the self-assessment system or late payment penalties, call Steven Glicher & Co accountants on 0161 405 8007 or email info@stevenglicher.co.uk.

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