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HMRC rejects calls to relax tax return deadline

HMRC will not waive late filing penalties or extend the 31 January deadline, but it will accept pandemic related disruptions and agent delays as a reasonable excuse and will also extend the period to appeal a penalty.  

22nd Dec 2020
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HMRC’s chief executive Jim Harra rejected requests from the ACCA, CIOT, AAT, ICAEW and ICAS to ease the self assessment deadline due the Covid workload pressures accountants are under. 

Responding to the joint letter from the accountancy bodies, HMRC’s Harra said their proposal to waive late filing penalties for a short period after 31 January would “complicate” HMRC’s self assessment message and would “send a blanket signal that it is OK to file late”.

Harra explained that this could have some “serious disadvantages” for taxpayers. “De-coupling the payment and filing dates might confuse customers, and even lead to non-payment, interest accruing, and late payments being triggered.” 

He added that it would also encourage some taxpayers to file late when they don’t need to.    

Instead, HMRC wants as many taxpayers as possible to complete their returns by the self assessment deadline, “even if they can’t pay in full”. 

Harra explained that “filing their return is key to crystalising their SA liability and being able to get our support, if they need it, to pay their tax”. 

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Replies (78)

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blue sheep
By NH
22nd Dec 2020 18:46

Makes sense to me, personally speaking we sent out communications to our usual January clients a few months ago urging them to come in earlier due to the exceptional situation and almost all of them have.
Yes we have been under a lot of pressure but I do not now anticipate a normal January.
I also have a feeling that seiss 4 will bring in the 19/20 numbers so the deadline could not be delayed.

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By kdbr
23rd Dec 2020 10:16

I'd be more impressed if those same professional bodies made the same fuss about forcing small business below the VAT level into MTD. It's only a couple of years away, and still they seem to buy into the process, despite the views of their members.

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Replying to kdbr:
By JCresswellTax
23rd Dec 2020 10:24

Have you spoken to your professional body with your views on this?

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Replying to JCresswellTax:
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By Red1960
31st Dec 2020 13:46

You might as well be talking to a brick wall.

The professional bodies are operated by and for the benefit of the big firms who have more "influence" (now there's a thing the public should know more about) among those that matter than ordinary practitioners.

This has been demonstrated time and time again until we are now in the mess that we are in now.

Put simply there is no mechanism by which HMRC can properly be held accountable. Have you noticed how formal complaints against HMRC for the neglect of tax payer's affairs and wilful incompetence are now just torn up and ignored?

These days if you don't get your MP involved you will have absolutely no redress and even with an MP backing you this will amount to an apology template and the complaints team correcting a mess of HMRC's own making without genuine redress or even addressing the question of compensation.

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Replying to kdbr:
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By Open all hours
23rd Dec 2020 19:12

Excellent point well made.

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By Paul Crowley
23rd Dec 2020 12:51

'The HMRC chief executive said that these taxpayers should get their returns in as soon as they can but they will not be penalised if they need more time.'

YES THEY WILL
penalty will be raised and an appeal needed

Paper not phone cos phone takes hours

Do not believe the HMRC spiel and reproduce without comment

HMRC version is 'cannot be 4rsed' take it to tribunal if we ignore your appeal

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/deadline-and-late-filing-pen...

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
By SteveHa
23rd Dec 2020 19:12

For ex-Revenue you seem to have as low an opinion of HMRC as I do.

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By Gem7321
23rd Dec 2020 16:06

Are the professional bodies just lying down and accepting this or are they going to fight for us?

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Replying to Gem7321:
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By Jimess
23rd Dec 2020 19:18

I doubt it, they will just shrug their shoulders and say, "well we tried" - but their input was too little too late, practitioners have been telling their professional bodies about this for months and this was finally put to HMRC last month. We are all so tired now and our tax return workload is a huge mountain, adding in furlough claims that need filing within 14 days of month end, it's a nightmare. I do wonder what proportion of the tax returns HMRC say have already been filed have actually been filed by agents and what proportion are from taxpayers who file returns themselves taking advantage of lockdown time to file their returns early.
Happy Christmas everyone!

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By Crouchy
23rd Dec 2020 19:14

lets hope we get 1mm of snow near the 31 Jan as that is sure to trigger an extension to the deadline, global pandemic on the other hand is something anyone can deal with and shouldnt be a cause for concern

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By Anthony G Thorne
31st Dec 2020 09:54

It appears that the US IRS has extended their deadline so they recognised to problems that taxpayers are under. Why does Jim Harra think the UK is different?

HMRC insist on calling taxpayers "customers" so as customers should we not get better customer service?

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Replying to Anthony G Thorne:
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By Red1960
31st Dec 2020 13:53

Because he can wilfully ignore it and there will be no consequences.

Personally, speaking our firm can and does handle HMRC's job better than they do.

I just think that if we are doing their job they should be paying us for it.

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By Kaylee100
31st Dec 2020 10:07

I think it makes sense. Although I would have preferred an automatic non penalty to 31st March as this way causes more work on both sides. Its probably their IT systems!

Ive been busy throughout, as have all our staff, but we still have a lot to do as a huge proportion of time this year has been spent on support, guidance and help.

We now only have a month to do the rest in and Im pretty confident most will be completed. In a normal year the number we have left would definitely be completed if the records were supplied. But we are now Tier 4, so practical struggles have not disappeared, and sadly some people will fall ill or need to isolate.

I do agree with not changing deadlines. It will lead to clients who are late annually anyway taking their foot off the pedal. This way, we can work hard with the confidence we can also work safely and if work runs over 31st January, we have a pressure valve we can release.

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Replying to Kaylee100:
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By Red1960
31st Dec 2020 14:22

By not changing deadlines we are tacitly saying there is no problem and therefore no solution is required.

This despite the fact, as you agree, that there is a serious problem because small practitioners have had to administer Covid support systems on HMRCs' behalf. Not only that they have had to implement and adapt to "n" Covid support systems designed each of which was clearly not fit for purpose because of the incompetence of HMRC and a Chancellor who doesn't seem to have any concept of what the "real world" means let alone systems designed function properly withing it.

Just for one I would mention designing a Covid support system which is riddled with holes and fails to provide support to those that need it or even completely forgetting that the self employed exist until there is such a furore that it hits the national press!

If the national saviour Piers Morgan were to take Harra's job then maybe all would be well but the problem in the real world is that he (or someone like him) hasn't and the self serving and supine prof bodies are about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Let's get the deadlines extended and put pressure on recalcitrant clients to get their records together. Do you really have the time to deal with all of these appeals in writing and then months chasing them up because they haven't been dealt with by HMRC because they can't be bothered? Are your clients going to wan to pay for that or will it be easier and simpler to simply extend the deadline?

Surely it can't be that difficult and if it is surely the individuals who commissioned HMRC systems should be P45'd.

Isn't it about time that responsibility rested with those who are responsible for this sistuation rather than those that aren't?

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By JohnB
31st Dec 2020 10:06

As a matter of interest, I wonder is Jim Harra working from home or his office?

Every Civil Servant I attempt to speak to is working from home. They presumably would prefer not to get Covid.

They're obviously more relaxed about us catching it.

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Replying to JohnB:
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By Kaylee100
31st Dec 2020 10:20

JohnB wrote:

As a matter of interest, I wonder is Jim Harra working from home or his office?

Every Civil Servant I attempt to speak to is working from home. They presumably would prefer not to get Covid.

They're obviously more relaxed about us catching it.

They probably are working from home and have worked out its difficult, and expensive, for them to sort the IT, who are also working from home.

Most clients I dont need to see or can do by phone or video call. I do, however, have one elderly couple who I go to their house in January to help find the information required. The wife has been bed bound for 5 years. But this issue isnt going to go away with a deadline extension so I will need to revert to my cunning plan!

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By birdman
31st Dec 2020 10:14

The blanket 3 month extension for Company accounts filing at Companies House (thus de-aligning filing and CT payment deadlines), and the extra month for Confirmation Statements, was somehow different, then? Quite a few SA Tax Returns are "linked" to Company account filing. A simple penalty waiver would be easy to set up, like the removal of interest on late July 2020 SA payments.

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Replying to birdman:
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By Kaylee100
31st Dec 2020 10:22

birdman wrote:

The blanket 3 month extension for Company accounts filing at Companies House (thus de-aligning filing and CT payment deadlines), and the extra month for Confirmation Statements, was somehow different, then? Quite a few SA Tax Returns are "linked" to Company account filing. A simple penalty waiver would be easy to set up, like the removal of interest on late July 2020 SA payments.

I agree the penalty waiver makes sense. Lets assume HMRC are being selfish in their decision - it makes sense for them to do it if they are going to be inundated with appeals they have to deal with accepting.

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By Patrick.B
31st Dec 2020 10:20

The deadline does give us something to work towards but there should be some flexibility.

It proves impossible to reach HMRC over the phone and I am not sure they are really pulling their weight working from home.

So, in these exceptional times, there has to be some regard for the pressure we are under to ensure that that the returns we submit have integrity and transparency.

These qualities will surely be eroded if we are expected to deal with matters without any consideration for the current Covid 19 measures.

The way HMRC has approached this matter does give me some cause concern as the goodwill between agents and HMRC is slowly changing on the basis that technology is used more extensively to ameliorate our frustrations.

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By Patrick.B
31st Dec 2020 10:20

The deadline does give us something to work towards but there should be some flexibility.

It proves impossible to reach HMRC over the phone and I am not sure they are really pulling their weight working from home.

So, in these exceptional times, there has to be some regard for the pressure we are under to ensure that that the returns we submit have integrity and transparency.

These qualities will surely be eroded if we are expected to deal with matters without any consideration for the current Covid 19 measures.

The way HMRC has approached this matter does give me some cause concern as the goodwill between agents and HMRC is slowly changing on the basis that technology is used more extensively to ameliorate our frustrations.

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Replying to Patrick.B:
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By Red1960
31st Dec 2020 14:35

Goodwill between HMRC and the profession?

I have to admit I had to have a good laugh at that.

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By stjamesconsultancy
31st Dec 2020 10:29

As a sole practitioner, not only has a significant amount of my time been spent providing support and guidance to my clients trying to run businesses and navigating government support schemes, but I also now have to provide childcare and support as secondary schools are not returning until 18 January. I don't believe that the SA deadline needed to be extended, I'm sure we're all going to work hard to meet the usual 31 January filing date, but surely waiving or deferring late filing penalties would go some way to mitigating the pressure on the profession in these exceptional times. To say late filing penalties “cancelled easily” by contacting HMRC is simply not true. It is incredibly difficult to contact HMRC, clients can't get through and we simply cannot afford the waiting time so no longer use phone contact, everything will have to be done in writing. This will create resource issues for HMRC. Clearly Mr Harra does not appreciate the pressures we are under, or the fact that the majority of agents will be trying their hardest to meet the deadline regardless of whether the late filing penalty was deferred or not, but at least a waiver/deferral would relief the pressure and have shown some respect for the profession and just what many of us have done for our clients, the government and the economy during the last few months.

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Replying to stjamesconsultancy:
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By imbs
31st Dec 2020 12:05

I totally agree. I am back to childcare duties now as well, on top of Jan filings and Brexit advisory!

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By stephen a
31st Dec 2020 10:31

Speaking as a “client” who usually submits in January I am very relaxed about this year since my submission went in in August. Sat at home in lockdown I had finished decorating and gardening so had nothing better to do than my partnership and individual SA return. I am going to target submission in September next year, much less stressful than working up to the January deadline.

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Replying to stephen a:
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By Kaylee100
31st Dec 2020 10:48

stephen a wrote:

Speaking as a “client” who usually submits in January I am very relaxed about this year since my submission went in in August. Sat at home in lockdown I had finished decorating and gardening so had nothing better to do than my partnership and individual SA return. I am going to target submission in September next year, much less stressful than working up to the January deadline.

Ive a lot of clients like that too. But many accountants are behind because they couldnt do returns as they were spending hours initally workinh out what financial support there was and then talking and supporting clients through financial help and, especially, the difficult furlough claims. I rang every likely affected client in person, some for longer than others.

Depending on the practice and the owners other responsibilities (teaching own children etc) this has caused pressure for some in actually completing accounts and tax returns.

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By Marlinman
31st Dec 2020 10:45

There's no excuse whatsoever, you've had 9 months. Most of my clients got their figures to me much quicker than usual while stuck at home with nothing else to do during the first lockdown.

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Replying to Marlinman:
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By Kaylee100
31st Dec 2020 10:50

Marlinman wrote:

There's no excuse whatsoever, you've had 9 months. Most of my clients got their figures to me much quicker than usual while stuck at home with nothing else to do during the first lockdown.

There are many reasons. Luckily you didnt encounter them. Neither did I to a large extent, but we must consider our fellow practitioners who do have different circumstances.

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Replying to Marlinman:
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By Red1960
31st Dec 2020 14:51

I agree with Kaylee100.

In the real world this is unhelpful to the many, many practitioners who have to make allowances for the difficulties their clients have and are continuing to experience this year. This can include, in truth, obtaining accounting records from third parties for reasons that are attributable to Covid.

You risk coming across as being out of touch and somewhat smug.

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By armstrongbell
02nd Jan 2021 00:17

I echo what Kaylee100 and Red1960 said and think Marlinman should realise they are in a fortunate position and others have had a very different year. The problem for me is not waiting for clients to supply information. My problem as a one-man band practitioner is that I wasn't able to be at my home office desk as usual from March to July. The time I was able to [***] with two young children at home was spent on normal corporate filing deadlines and supporting clients through various Covid-related issues including figures for bank loans, making furlough claims, advising on SEISS procedures, providing redundancy calculations. A few clients have needed a lot of time. You can have two similar clients and one will grasp their issues and get on with it and another will your time to clarify matters every time a new pronouncement is made. I value the service I have been able to provide to all clients whatever their level of need.

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By Orcadia
31st Dec 2020 10:50

I intend to contact my MP about this. The current stance by HMRC really makes no sense and will involve them in additional work to issue penalties then cancel them. There will be negative PR with our clients as soon as a penalty notice hits their doormat, irrespective of the fact that they should be cancelled.
I would urge everyone to contact their MP, they will have more clout than our Institutes appear to have.

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Replying to Orcadia:
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By kenatnam
31st Dec 2020 13:22

I've already written to Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury as he appears to be in charge of those people at HMRC that think we are easily confused. I'll be writing to my local MP too - he will then write to Jesse Norman, it all adds weight.
I don't agree with those of us here who think we've had 9 months or that deadlines should stay the same - be thankful that you haven't had Covid or are suffering from Long Covid, or have had a loved one fall prey to it. We should all be standing together for the good of the less fortunate amongst us who need our support.

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By Mr J Andrews
31st Dec 2020 11:14

As much as I feel so disappointed , frustrated and annoyed at the way HMRC has become so devalued and lacking in customer care and service - much of which must be attributed to the incumbent Harra- I see the problem with this mindless decision not to waive penalties if next month's deadline is missed.
Read between the lines . How can an incompetent Government department , at this stage of the year with such inferior computer systems and inadequate staff- and staffing levels - trigger its administration to avoid the automatic penalties if 31/01/2021 is missed. For Harra to say extension would complicate HMRC's ''message'' and other Harra bull####, the morality remains, that a reasonable excuse will see the penalty quashed.
Pandemic related disruption will affect agents and their clients [ Harra's customers ] in countless ways. So each missed deadline - and there will be many this year - with the concept of reasonableness for lateness will necessitate an appeal. Each appeal will warrant an HMRC officer's consideration . { And where they get these extra bodies from is anyone's guess }. Favourable decisions mean the fortunate end to this additional administration. A dullard officer might have missed what the country , and world , has been going through this year and prolong the administrative process , not just causing additional time for agents but also detracting HMRC staff from more productive work.
Get a life Harra. Don't patronise me with your appreciation of the valuable and vital work we do . This one-off request by our accountancy bodies will not be acceded to for the weak reasons you mention. It's simply down to the fact that HMRC haven't a clue how to . Admit it.
Just like Harra once said. MTD is being introduced to make tax return filing simpler. And does anyone remember the Revenue slogan ''..... Working Together .......'' ??

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By anthonystorey
31st Dec 2020 11:26

It only takes a few minutes to file a Tax Return with provisional figures that can be amended after the deadline when there's more time, so what's the problem.

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Replying to anthonystorey:
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By imbs
31st Dec 2020 12:10

Well who knows what the future holds but if, like last year, SEISS grant is based on tax returns with no amendments after 26 March, unfortunately one could be caught out unexpectedly by a last minute annoucement by the treasurer.

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Replying to anthonystorey:
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By johnjenkins
31st Dec 2020 12:34

That is exactly what I am doing. I really don't like doing it and normally wouldn't dream of doing it unless specifically asked by a client. So I have a list of all clients who need to submit and next week will do estimates for each one. Then as and when records come in I will amend. The main reason for doing this is because we really don't know what is going to happen in January. If the hospitalisations and deaths increase then a total lockdown is inevitable and movement could be severely restricted in order to get the pandemic under control.

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Replying to anthonystorey:
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By Red1960
31st Dec 2020 14:56

We all know about this and in "extremis" have probably done just that but what you are forgetting is that submissions that are estimated or provisional can be rejected if there is no justifiable reason for the failure to provide "actual" figures.

So this is tactic should not be abused or used regularly or undoubtedly the facility will be withdrawn.

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Replying to Red1960:
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By johnjenkins
31st Dec 2020 16:25

As Jimbob says he is treating the pandemic as a "reasonable excuse". With estimates it negates the fine in the first place. HMRC will (when they ever get round to it) have to ask for figures. The object of the exercise is to avoid a penalty and give time where needed because of the pandemic, (whatever cause) not to abuse the system.
Perhaps Jimbob is actually saying that to us in between the lines, because it's a bit contradictory to say keep the fine but you have a reasonable excuse.

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By Ian McTernan CTA
31st Dec 2020 12:52

I suspect the real reason is that they can't amend their systems in time or it would take too long or be too expensive, having left it way too late to do anything.
Of course as usual the Institutes have been useless as they have no power on HMRC- maybe Govt should look at getting the people who have to deal with this more involved...
It's just a precursor for MTD for everyone, where again our Institutes are toothless and don't represent small practitioners (despite us paying far more proportionally than the big firms) and where again they will have zero effect on the outcome.

So February and March will be dealing with end of year planning, furlough claims, Govt schemes and to add to the pile, copy/paste appeal letters for late filing penalties...

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By norstar
31st Dec 2020 13:06

Firstly, it's nonsense that Companies House automatically extended the filing deadline by 3 months, recognising the issues faced. Yet a sole trader has no such luxury.

Secondly, it's nonsense that HMRC are setting themselves up for a deluge of penalty appeals that will clog the system. They're already ignoring appeals we've submitted and chasing clients with bailiffs, which is an utter disgrace.

Thirdly, as someone else pointed out, Mr Harra was quite smug about the fact that filings appeared in line with previous years so far, but the individual filing their own return while they're not working, is a mile away from a practitioner like us who are filing for 600+ clients. We've had sickness, isolation, childcare and more to deal with personally but worse than that, every interaction with HMRC (of which there are many because frankly, their service is terrible at the moment), is sometimes taking days of trying to get through on phone, webchat or using Psychics.

Finally, I'm not worried about penalties - I'll appeal and take them to the tribunal if need be, but I am worried about my agent reputation suffering where clients on our list file late. No one seems to be able to confirm if that will be the case.

My staff have been great but even with their efforts, our chasers and me working every working day this year without fail, we're likely to fall short, and that p***** me off when someone not in the real world comes out with this guff.

Stick your penalties.

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Morph
By kevinringer
31st Dec 2020 13:21

HMRC did extend the deadline several years ago when there was an industrial dispute. On that occasion, at very short notice, HMRC had no problem extending it for SA and Tax Credits. So we know it can be done. And don't forget, HMRC wants to be the most digitally advanced tax authority in the world so this will be doddle.

If HMRC reckons there's no need to extend the deadline, why did Companies House give a blanket extension? I know CH is CT and we're talking about SA/TC, but most companies are small family businesses that in practice are the same as their unincorporated counterparts: we have the same issues preparing small business accounts whether they're incorporated or not.

HMRC are months behind with VAT registrations (currently taking an extra 6 weeks). HMRC stopped processing DIY refunds for 6 months! If HMRC feel it was necessary to unilaterally give themselves an extension, why do they feel that it's 'business as normal' for SA?

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Morph
By kevinringer
31st Dec 2020 13:25

Why does 'the most digitally advanced tax authority in the world' want to create so much more manual/paper work? I'm talking about the penalty appeals. We'll be appealing against every one of them. Agents can only appeal on paper. Someone in HMRC will have to process all that paper. Maybe HMRC will accept all those appeals, but how many hours (HMRC and agents) will be lost dealing with all that paper? HMRC was able to create CJRS and SEISS online portals at short notice. Surely HMRC could create an online agents appeal process in time for the penalty appeals. Or better still, just cancel them.

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Morph
By kevinringer
31st Dec 2020 13:33

Like many smaller agents, I've gone the extra (100) mile(s) to support my clients during covid (CJRS, BBL, SEISS, business advise, agony aunt etc). All that support was top priority and normal accounts/SA had to be pushed to one side. We're still doing CJRS etc but not as much. But we're behind. The records are in. The logjam is with me. I've been working 7 days a week for months (and early mornings and late evenings - 9:30 pm yesterday and today too) and I'll be working tomorrow. So I couldn't have done more. But I'm still behind. I've busted a gut to get done what I have got done. I know many other agents have been the same. It's because of our massive sacrifices this year that SA return numbers have been holding up. But we've been doing this for 10 months now. And on top of all this we're now in another lockdown which means some agents are also now fulltime parents. And some agents have had staff issues (some staff haven't been able to cope with the pressure). And on top of all that, from tomorrow we have Brexit. Yet HMRC still expect us to carry on 'business as normal' for 31 January. HMRC have (and still are) struggling with covid so why can't HMRC see that we agents are too?

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Morph
By kevinringer
31st Dec 2020 14:15

We have to take some responsibility for the deadline not being extended. We often complain about our workload and grumble to each other, but have we actually contacted our PB or HMRC? If not, how do we expect them to know our strength of feeling? If every one of us who wants an extension had contacted our PB or HMRC it would have happened. It's not too late. The more of us who contact our PB and HMRC, the more likely something will happen.

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Replying to kevinringer:
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By Jimess
31st Dec 2020 16:59

The professional bodies have been made fully aware of the issues for several months now, many agents saw the problems escalating and contacted their professional bodies asking for representation. The representation went to HMRC in November and HMRC sat on the decision until just before Christmas.
Great timing when HMRC knew that hard hit practitioners would be taking their one day off this year (if they were lucky) and the flack would not hit until HMRC were enjoying their nice long Christmas break so they would not need to deal with it until January when - Oh dear, it's just a bit too late isn't it?
Like many practitioners we have put in many many long hours this year providing the support to clients and our usual work has been pushed down the line because of Covid related work and Covid issues. In the situation many clients were facing we all wanted to help as much as we could and that was the right, and in my view, the professional thing to do. When the financial measures were announced HMRC realised they could not push them out on their own and asked registered agents to support clients with the Covid measures as much as we possibly could. They still made it difficult for us, the SEISS roll-out being a prime example. Nonetheless, we did as they asked, and we worked extremely hard under exceedingly difficult circumstances to deliver the help our clients needed as much as we could. Practitioners have now asked HMRC for a little help in return, just to ease the pressure, to help us to help them! They have refused - and I have never been so disappointed in HMRC as I am right now. I very much suspect that after this year we will see a lot of very good, well experienced and talented people walk away from the profession because of the pressures they have faced and the lack of support to be had - and the profession will be so very much the poorer for it.

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By Stalytax
31st Dec 2020 16:47

As most Covid related decisions this year have been subject to last minute U turns, ie schools, universities, pubs, eat out / stay home, go to work / don't go to work, tiers etc, I don't see what should be different this time round. Find out what the likes of Matt Hancock and Gavin Williamson say we'll be doing at any given point, and you can bet your house it will be the 100% opposite of that.

Ask me around the end of January, we'll see what the SA position is then. I do agree though that the 'usual suspect' clients who usually don't think they have to bother to show up until around 29th January will just put their visit off to 29 March or whatever if they announce an extended deadline now.

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By DKB-Sheffield
01st Jan 2021 15:18

QUOTE: "The same applies when agents are delayed in filing a return due to the pandemic and this will also be treated as a valid reasonable excuse."

Given HMRC's usual interpretation of a reasonable excuse, I would question whether penalties will be "cancelled easily" is true! HMRC have always been relatively specific in addressing reasonable excuses and rarely look at events (leading to late submissions) more than a week or so prior to the deadline.

By example, a few years ago, a client was admitted to hospital in late December and discharged in the 3rd week in January (and still convalescing on 31 Jan). The return was filed in the 2nd week of February. The appeal failed because the client wasn't IN hospital on 31 Jan! I'm sure this would have been overturned by the FTT but the client did not wish to pursue this over £100.

That said... clearly, if an agent is admitted to hospital with COVID and is on a ventilator on 31st January, HMRC would be likely to deem this reasonable.

However, the majority of agents (myself included - I hope I won't be on a ventilator on 31 Jan anyway) likely to file late will not fit that category. We are behind with filing due to the inordinate additional pressures caused by the implementation, claiming and related advice in relation to SEISS, CJRS, CBILS LA Grants, HR, as well as... assisting with employer redundancies, negotiation of rent reductions, negotiation of loan holidays, reading up (and advising clients) on changes to government policy (restrictions, tiers, adapting workplaces, COVID risk assessments, PPE), and generally being a listening ear!!! I DO NOT believe for 1 minute HMRC will deem this to be a reasonable excuse! I furthermore believe a large proportion of appeals will be rejected!

So, whilst I may be being overly cynical, I honestly believe HMRC's stance in not waiving or suspending penalties is for financial gain. Some tax payers will not know that COVID is a reasonable excuse (and pay the penalty), others can't be bothered to appeal (and pay the penaty), many appeals will fail as the excuse is not "reasonable enough" (most will pay the penalty at this stage), for those who take this to the FTT it will take months and a considerable amount of time and is hardly worth the effort for £100!

I really do believe HMRC are out of touch on this one. Furthermore, I believe their suggestion of extending appeals to agent COVID related matters will be restricted to agent illness (or at best, agent self isolation)... NOT the additonal pressures experienced by agents in relation to work, family and extra support!

Thanks (7)
Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By johnjenkins
02nd Jan 2021 14:14

Do we trust HMRC? They have shown clear "out of touchness" with this one. That is why I will be estimating all tax returns where I know I don't have time or client hasn't got records ready (all to do with covid). It avoids the fine and therefor trusting HMRC to do what's right. It would have shown goodwill and consideration if they cancelled penalties until end of March.

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By GHarr497688
03rd Jan 2021 23:54

My local council told me they would take 28weeks to change my postal address as a result of Covid . Planning department six months behind . Hmrc and Local government can delay anything however taxpayers are not affected in the same way . How odd . Them and us I would say !

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Replying to GHarr497688:
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By Jimess
04th Jan 2021 08:20

Yes I have some prime examples of HMRC delays. I have been trying to get a fully authorised PAYE client on my agent list for several months now - numerous phone calls and webchats with the HMRC online services team who promised a resolution within 14 days - still not resolved. HMRC have not yet issued UTR's to some of my clients that were registered for Self Assessment in October. The agent helpline will not look into this unless the client phones in themselves as there is no agent authority - because there is no UTR issued yet! The only thing I can do is write in with a paper 64-8 and put the issue in writing so that HMRC self assessment are aware of the delays from other departments. However the letter probably will not get dealt with until well after 31 January. All additional time and expense for my client. I personally do not want to rely on the HMRC penalty system for many of the reasons discussed by other posts. My other concern on the matter of late filing issues is that at the end of the day the clients are only concerned about getting the returns filed on time. Most clients do not understand or appreciate the HMRC issues that we are currently facing, after all in their view they pay us to deal with "all of that stuff" and I am sure some of my clients think they are the only ones we act for! Some clients perceive any late filing as somehow the fault of the agent, no matter what the circumstances. This erodes client faith, and no matter how much we keep them informed of the situation late filing penalties will one way or another have a hit on many client portfolios. I have worked with a lot of my clients for many years - I am concerned that HMRC and their very unhelpful manner towards agents on the question of the extension to the self assessment filing date will disturb the good relations we have worked so hard to develop with our clients.

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Replying to Jimess:
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By imbs
04th Jan 2021 11:44

Going through similar frustrating process with HMRC paye versus CIS. The queues to get through to speak to someone are scandalous and then nobody can help anyway. We resorted to writing a letter! No reply yet though.

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