SA deadline extended to 2 Feb

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HMRC acted yesterday to defuse administrative problems and taxpayer anger over the call centre strike planned for 31 January by effectively extending the Self Assessment deadline until Thursday 2 February.

In a statement on its website, the department announced, “To make sure our customers are not disadvantaged if they cannot get through to HMRC's call centres on 31 January, we will not impose any late filing penalties for people who file their Self Assessment returns on 1 and 2 February.”

The SA deadline remains midnight on 31 January. But HMRC will treat all returns that come in by midnight on 2 February as though they were submitted by 31 January. No interest will be charged on payments due on 31 January that are paid on 1 or 2 February.

 “We’ve always been very clear that we want the returns – not the penalties. For that reason, we don’t want anyone who can’t get through for help and advice on 31 January to be disadvantaged in any way,” explained Stephen Banyard, HMRC’s acting director general for personal tax.

AccountingWEB’s tax editor Rebecca Benneyworth heard the news informally on Thursday afternoon and commented in Any Answers: “HMRC's view is that although taxpayers could claim reasonable excuse (industrial action) it would be more sensible to give a blanket exemption from penalty for those two days, to allow for people who tried to phone and could not get through. The cost and disruption for both sides of appealing penalty notices was taken into account in coming to this decision.

“Personally, I welcome this very pragmatic step which is good for agents, taxpayers and HMRC. Thanks very much HMRC.”

AccountingWEB members were initially confused by the concession, with several moaning that it had come too late to be of much use.

But Martin Curtis took a different slant. “Just don't tell the clients!” he commented. “A two day extension has got to be good news but those who are going to leave things to the very last minute will continue to do so. I know I'm still going to be filing Returns for the late stragglers at silly o'clock on the 2nd.”

Sure enough, Ding Dong reported that one of his traditional last-minute clients who had arranged to drop off his paperwork on the 30th had texted yesterday afternoon: “Just heard on the radio the deadline extended. Can’t make Monday now, OK if I come over on Wed?”


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Very good decision

This has just saved HMRC a heap of paperwork as people would be making reasonable excuse claims stating that they could not get through to the helpline.

Well done HMRC positive action much appreciated.

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I agree with the above post....well done HMRC ....I don't say that often!!!!

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extended deadline

2 February is a Thursday!

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I think the article should read Thursday 2 February??

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 I have had positive experiences with HMRC this month in getting info from them promptly. Even their debt collectors have been willing to assist with time to pay arrangements.

I hope it is the start of a new approach,


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The 2nd February is Thursday.


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no sleep until the 2nd then

Unfortunate if you booked your holiday when you could have filed that last return....

Is this just some silly game they are playing ? I wonder ?

Do striking workers still get paid ?

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So does this mean that we won't be hit by a pile of automated penalty notices for returns submitted between 31st and the 2nd? And when we deal with all the appeals, who do we charge??

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Tax Credit declarations

Does the extended deadline also extend to final notification of income to the tax credit office?

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Sorry folks

The Thursday/Friday confusion is all my fault. In my haste to publish forgot to check my calendar.

It's a useful warning about how basic errors can creep in when you're under deadline pressure.

Many apologies to anyone who might have been confused/misled.


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My answer to 2 questions is WHY

1) Why are HMRC staff even considering striking on 31 January?? Or do they not care about their own profession!!!

2) Why are we giving taxpayers that clearly leave things to the last moment an extention? we have been in self assessment for 15 years now!!!

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Not sure applies to us

If you read the press release carefully its not clear that it will apply to us as agents. It reads ''we will not impose any late filing penalties for people who file their Self Assessment returns on 1 and 2 February''  This has come about becuase they fear the layman will be unable to access their helpline because of Industrial action . Well we have our own dedicated agents helpline and have little or no need to consult an HMRC helpline at the last minute.  We are also filing on behalf of others as agent. We are not filing as principal (in the main ) so HMRC can we have some clarification please ?


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be surprised

if Hmrc even know who filed the return ?

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they know

from your agent details entered in box whatever. Unless you remove them

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Tax Credits

I would also like to know what's the position with regards to the Tax Credits helpline. It's difficult to contact them at the best of times. And no agent dedicated helpline number for them. In fact normally they refuse to speak to me despite having a 64-8!

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HMRC Unaware - Interest still applies.

I have just spoken to HMRC to confirm that my SA return has been received and to confirm the amount owing and they knew nothing about a 2-day exemption until 2nd Feb.  Perhaps they haven't told their striking staff!!!!

They also said that regardless of any extension, any late payments have to attract interest charges and that a payment on Monday would attract one day's interest at least.  So I overpaid today to avoid the interest and received confirmation of receipt immediately so why would Monday 31st Jan payment attract interest charges?

Right arm, left arm.


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Not necessarily good news

I made the point yesterday in my blog posting about business owners who still haven't prepared  their accounts for 2010/11 - how can they plan for 2012 when they are so behind (although within the deadline):


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I can confirm

That the penalty moratorium applies to any returns which are received by HMRC on 1 or 2 February irrespective of who they are filed by (taxpayer / agent). So no penalty run will be made in respect of receipts on those days.

I do agree with the "don't tell the clients". Mine will all be in anyway (with a bit of midnight oil this weekend) but the calls on my software company helpline will now go on for another two days. And I was hoping for a couple of quiet days. Booked Lunch out on 1st - I'm jolly well still going!

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Thanks for confirming

Yes that is the problem. I've also made arrangements for 1 and 2nd Feb - social and work - doing those limited companies that I've put off for the last few weeks.

All very well saying 'don't tell the clients' but it could be big news in the Nationals tomorrow.


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they already know !

We have plenty of time now ! one has just phoned to keep us up to date.

Guess whose fault it will be now !

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I have worked 7 days a week for 3 weeks. If I ain't finished by Tuesday tough! . I couldnt face another 2 days of tax returns. To hell with the clients and HMRC.

Worn out and frustrated!

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Forget it!!

lordburnside wrote:

I have worked 7 days a week for 3 weeks. If I ain't finished by Tuesday tough! . I couldnt face another 2 days of tax returns. To hell with the clients and HMRC.

Worn out and frustrated!


You're not the only one, and WELL SAID lordburnside. If clients think they can do the same to me too they can forget it.

I am not playing "the game" either. I am going to a client all day on the 1st and working on all the other things that didn't get done in January on the 2nd.  

AND I AM HAVING FRIDAY OFF, come hell or high water!

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Got to agree...

...with Martin Curtis' comment; "Just don't tell the clients!"

All this announcement will do is let clients drag out the deadline for two more days (HMRC can bask in their own glory), and they'll still argue that it wasn't their fault if they're late.

Bottom line - HMRC is HMRC! Why are they trying to sell themselves to their customers? It's not as if they can go elsewhere!

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..... technical point about Midnight on 2 February

Does received by midnight on 2nd February mean that we have until 23:59:59 on 1st February as surely midnight on 2nd February means that if you file at 00:05 on 2nd February you are late?

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Best you buy a watch...

youngloch wrote:

Does received by midnight on 2nd February mean that we have until 23:59:59 on 1st February as surely midnight on 2nd February means that if you file at 00:05 on 2nd February you are late?

Oddly, midnight (you know, the end of the day) on February 2 comes after midnight February 1. And, if this is any easier, 00.05hrs on February 2 comes before 24.00hrs February 2 - just as 5 comes before 2,400 and 0.05 comes before 24.

Are you sure you're qualified?!

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I was merely pointing out, tongue in cheek, that once again HMRC are not exactly crystal clear as midnight has no clear definition (see below) - there is no such time as 24:00:00 as the clock then becomes 00:00:00 the common definition of midnight - unless you have a very strange watch?!

PS Smile it's nearly 31 January! oh blast cross out 31 January and let the pain continue for 48 hours.... "thanks" HMRC!


Definition of midnight:

Midnight marks the beginning and ending of each day in civil time throughout the world. It is the dividing point between one day and another. Most authorities recommend avoiding confusion by using "midnight", "12 midnight", or "12:00 midnight".[




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Crocodile smiles

They would be better to use their resources on enforcement rather than marketing and public relations.

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Anyone know ...

... what will be the likely effect if I try to file online a repair to a 2009-10 tax return on 01 Feb, having failed on 31 Jan?

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

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I was just about to ask the same question but Clint got there first!

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Comment from Mike Fleming, Straughans


Mike Fleming, partner at Straughans Chartered Accountants and Tax Advisers, said:

“It’s not a surprise to me that this extension of the Tax Return deadline is being presented as a generous gesture on the part of HMRC. However, I’m sure that this is a deliberately strategic move. An extension neatly prevents the inevitable onslaught of letters the Revenue would have received as a result of asking taxpayers to claim in writing if they believed the strike on the 31st had prevented them from meeting the deadline. This deluge of correspondence could have crippled HMRC’s already ailing administrative system and could have caused a new spate of errors to match some of the Revenue’s high-profile blunders of last year. Secondly, the deadline extension itself means very little in real terms – the inefficiencies of the organisation’s system mean that it can take up to 7 days for the Revenue to supply a taxpayer with their unique reference number, which they need to complete their return. So for anyone who has not yet approached HMRC for this information, an extension of two days will not enable them to submit on time – and crucially means that HMRC do not lose out on thousands of pounds of expected income from fines. My final observation is that, in releasing this information about the extended deadline, HMRC are deflecting attention away from the fact that a  huge section of their workforce are so dissatisfied with their current conditions that they have chosen the most high-profile day of the year to stage a strike. This of course brings us back to the wider problems with employee dissatisfaction and systemic issues which pervade HMRC.”

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Tax credits extension

Has HMRC also extended the date for infomring them of tax credits figures, where an estimate was provided in July 2011? I'm assuming that the employees dealing with tax credits will also be on strike.

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I totally disagree with the comment that it takes HMRC up to 7 days to provide UTR's.  Many of my clients have waited many weeks to receive them but have been re-assured that, as they haven't been requested to complete a tax return until the UTR arrives, therefore, they have three months from that arrival to submit the returns.

This has always been the case, and I was assured by the Agent Dedicated Priority Line recently, that this is still so.

Has anyone any experience to the contrary - I have a number of new clients who are still awaiting that UTR.

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Think that's the right word and good on them.

The two really late ones that called a couple of weeks ago were told then  that we would not be able to do their returns and I see no need to change it. I'm with the others above who don't see this as an opportunity to spend another 46 hours (1 hour's sleep a day) just to squeeze another few through.  Next year anyone calling or drifting in after 1 October will be told the same thing.

@Chesterfield Accountants - re reasons for the strike, probably too busy to read it but have a look at: 

I'm with "The Workers" on this one.

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I am not convinced

Paul Scholes

These same civil servents have been happy to sit back and watch this deteriation of service for the last 5 or so years (some would say longer), now privatisation is on the cards (and loss of current pension and other benefits, which come with privatisation) they start to place their heads above the parapit. Where was all this industrial action about the failings of the service provided to its other stakeholders (tax agents). For me too little too late, i'm afraid.

So, although I have previously not been on the side of privatisation, I am now no longer on the side of these useless civil servant workers that are only interested in themselves and not the system as a whole.

As for taxpayers, I have the same lack of regard for the last minute submission clients, that will also moan about the tax bill being too high and then take months to pay the agent who has done their upmost to avoid a penalty. As I have said we have now had the 31 January deadline for 15 years now.

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Useless, selfish, civil servants happy to sit back?

Seems a bit too "Daily Mail" for me.  Yes, just as with accountants I've met, I've known a few useless tax officers but from what I've heard and read I'd hardly tar them all with that brush on this issue. 

Given their working conditions and lack of management from above I'm not that surprised that they feel the need to look after themselves first and treat their role as "just a job" and not, as I'm sure you regard your own role, as a caring vocation.

By the way, given your views, unless you can put your name to a post to me can you please call me Mr Scholes?  Thanks comrade.


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Enough is Enough brothers & sisters

How about starting an e-union on here where we all agree not to accept late information from clients after a certain date (that date to be agreed by a quorum of duly elected local representatives.....bagsy Croydon)?

Anyone not agreeing or found accepting the late information from a member's client would be required to incorporate the word "scab" in their accountingweb name?

Seconded anyone?

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well well






i heard it but did not believe it.

just a shame it's not gone to saturday  -must find some civil servants to be rude to so they all walk out for longer.


Sad thing is they actually think we care about them all doing these strikes, whereas as long as it's not the tubes/BR/dustmen and similar, no one gives a tinkers.....



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"Sad thing is they actually think we care about them all doing these strikes, whereas as long as it's not the tubes/BR/dustmen and similar, no one gives a tinkers....."

Actually, I don't suppose it's about you - I always presume that strikers are trying to make a point to their employers.

On a broader point, I presume that if it is tubes, BR?, or dustmen, you are one of those that complain that they are "holding the country to ransom". And, do you know what?.....they don't care. That's Karma, that is.

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re your comment




no i don't talk about "holding to ransom etc..." anyone is welcome to go on strike for anything, just i am allowed to care or not surely?

clearly the strike was timed for maximum embarrassment, and HMRCy should have been on the ball weeks ago, and riposted by saying as you are going on strike we will just move the deadline back a week etc... simples?





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Good PR will be undone

The good PR that HMRC receive over the 2 day extension will soon be undone by a large number of tax payers with liabilities of a few pounds, receiving penalty notices.  Pensioners often find it hard to gather everything together for their SA return and are likely to be hardest hit.

I don't think you can blame the union for selecting the filing deadline to strike. There would be little point in Father Christmas going on strike in August.

Credit where it is due to HMRC for extending the deadline, but do we know for sure that they have programmed the computer with the 2 February date to avoid unnecessary penalty notices and subsequent appeals?

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A couple of clarifications

Clint asked about late amendments. My experience tells me that late amendments will not be accepted, but there has been no specific announcement from HMRC on this. Certainly if you try to file an amended return for 2009-10 after 31 January it will bounce as I remember a few years ago they programmed it wrong and amendments filed on 31 were rejected because the programmer limited amendments to "not on 31st" rather than "not after 31st". These were sorted out manaually. Ergo we have programming limitations re amends which are probably not easy to flex. Might be able to get them accepted if you write in and plead "unable to contact you". I suspect this would cover the few cases that are likely to arise.

Tax credits - I suspect this has been overlooked. I'll get onto the Tax Faculty and see whether they know / can find out. Will respond on Monday.

And yes, the point of the announcement is that the computer has been / will be instructed NOT to issue penalties for4 filing dates 1 Feb and 2 Feb, as this is exactly what HMRC wanted to avoid - loads of penalties which are subsequently appealed causing all sorts of issues for both sides.


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Thnaks Rebecca

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What about ...

... attempts to file CT600 forms online on 31 January 2012 for companies having a 31 January 2011 year end?

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

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Good Point Clint

You have still got the fall back of claiming reasonable excuse though. Because of the soft landing period for CT iXBRL, there is already a light touch on penalties, so any reasonable excuse appelas where someone tried to ring HMRC and could not get through will probably be treated sympathetically. And the situation is a bit different - HMRC quote 600,000 returns filed on 31 January last year, and over 100,000 calls. Given that quite a chunk of 31 Jan filing is agent last minute, that's a massive proportion of calls to returns filed.

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CT rtns





yes, but we all know it is civil servant twaddle that CT returns due 12mths, but the tax is due 9 mths, so the REAL deadline was 31.10.11 in the world of reality.





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What happens if the strike is called off at the last minute?

The strikers could come to some agreement as strikers in other businesses (BA; miners etc) have done in the past I suppose - and call the strike off at the last moment. If they do what then? All this extending of the deadline is just too dangerous.

I also had a client deliver his accounts to me yesterday (yes... Sunday) with the words 'plenty of time now...'

This year seems to have been worse than previous years. I too have worked what seems 12 hour days for weeks.   

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I'd be amazed if HMRC backed down now...

If the strike were called off and the extension was then cancelled (which there is no way they will do by the way...) then from my point of view I would be at home early on Wednesday afternoon to spend some proper time with the wife and kids for the first time in a month!

Looking from the outside in there is no doubt that many of us try too hard to help our clients when so many are just a danger to themselves - especially the January instructors.

What has made this year harder is the automatic imposition of the £100 fine regardless of whether or not there is a liability. Normally those returns which come in late and we know are refund cases would have been put to one side.......

Client's getting fined just makes it even harder for them to pay us and everyone is struggling enough as it is.

I was so looking forward to Wednesday though!

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Not refunds

No.. I dont have many refund ones - it appears that despite nagging as from Sept onwards more than usual have left it to the last minute.

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Enquiry Window

For those returns filed on the 1st or 2nd February 2012 does anyone know what the HMRC stance is on the enquiry window for the return?

HMRC says returns filed on the above noted dates will be treated as filed on 31st January 2012 so logically the enquiry window then runs to 31st January 2013?

Is this correct?



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Time to pay

What about arranging time to pay.. Just finished a return and due to various circumstances they need time to pay, but will not be able to get hold of HMRC.  WIll this be allowed over the next few days. Client called yeatrday but could not get through all day?

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