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Self assessment tax form AccountingWEB Over one million people missed the self assessment deadline
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More than one million people missed the self assessment deadline

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HMRC confirmed it received more than 11 million tax returns before the self assessment deadline window slammed shut, but with 12.1 million due to be filed, self assessment season is not over for everyone.

1st Feb 2024
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In a press release, HMRC said it had received 11,027,962 self assessment tax returns, not including voluntary returns and late registrations. As 12,187,811 were expected to file before the 31 January deadline, the figures indicate that more than 1.1 million people missed the deadline -- a 10% increase on the estimated 1 million people who missed it last year.

Despite its estimate of late filers, HMRC reported it received 500,000 more returns than it expected before the deadline. This could indicate that hundreds of thousands of people have been pulled into the self assessment for the first time by fiscal drag (rising wages and frozen person tax thresholds leading to taxpayers having to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge, or pushed past the £100,000 income limit requiring them to file a return).

Late filers could face an automatic fixed late filing penalty of £100, which applies even if no tax is due or if the tax has been paid on time. Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services thanked the millions of self assessment taxpayers and agents who met the deadline. "Anyone who has yet to file and is concerned that they cannot pay in full may be able to spread the cost of what they owe with a payment plan,” she added.

Deadline day action

As with previous years, HMRC saw an influx of last-minute taxpayers scrambling to file their tax returns on deadline day. This year 778,068 taxpayers filed on 31 January, with 32,958 customers leaving it to the final hour. 

HMRC also revealed that during the peak hours on the final day, between 4pm and 4.59pm, 61,549 taxpayers submitted their self assessment return. 

Accountants took to Any Answers throughout self assessment season to discuss their experiences with acquiring new clients, managing the late ones and handling difficult situations. 

AccountingWEB regular, ireallyshouldknowthisbut shared a message they received at 2.45pm on deadline day asking them to complete their tax returns. They commented, ‘there’s always one’ but with HMRC’s figures being released, it seems ireallyshouldknowthisbut might not have been the only one to experience this. 

Dawn Register, head of tax dispute resolution at BDO said, “The higher number of people being required to file a tax return for the 22-23 tax year is likely to have led to a rise in the numbers of people filing late. We would encourage HMRC to do more to support people to be compliant and get their tax right first time.”

HMRC’s lack of support 

To no one’s surprise, HMRC’s wait times continued to cause upset as many commented on a lack of support from the tax authority during self assessment season. 

With HMRC placing restrictions on its helplines at the beginning of December, accountants struggled to get through to the agent dedicated line and therefore faced challenges in resolving more complex issues.

Risk of penalties 

For those who will be unable to appeal the late penalties, they may be caught out by more than just a £100 fine. 

HMRC said that a 5% penalty applies to unpaid tax at 30 days, 6 months, and 12 months, with interest also charged on late tax payments.

Late payment interest charges have reached their highest level in 16 years, currently standing at 7.75%, marking the highest rate since January 2008. The last-minute filers must promptly submit their tax returns to ensure they only incur a £100 penalty.

Replies (31)

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By Justin Bryant
01st Feb 2024 17:48

That all sounds fine.

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Tornado
By Tornado
01st Feb 2024 18:04

I love the picture at the top of this article which suggests a tax bill of £4.80, but this is not far off the mark for my long standing client who came in this morning with his cheque book to pay a small balance of £2.60 and was a bit worried that he was late.

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Replying to Tornado:
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By AndrewV12
02nd Feb 2024 12:30

It was you wasn't it :)

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By FactChecker
01st Feb 2024 21:17

Every year the same story ... and every year the same response from me:
* Why can't Aweb ask HMRC how many of the "estimated 1 million people who missed it (the deadline) last year" eventually got around to filing (as opposed to disappearing/dying or whatever)?

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By johnjenkins
02nd Feb 2024 11:38

It would also be interesting to know how many, out of those that were filed, included estimates.

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By FactChecker
01st Feb 2024 21:22

BTW I love the nominative determinism of BDO's head of tax dispute resolution - Dawn Register.
And of course she's the perfect antidote to all the late (almost midnight) filers of this story.

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By SteveHa
02nd Feb 2024 08:37

I do wish that AWeb in particular would not perpetuate this myth

Quote:
or pushed past the £100,000 income limit requiring them to file a return

There is no such requirement.

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By rca.aca.bz
02nd Feb 2024 10:54

To be fair, it does state this on gov.uk under who must file a tax return. I don't suppose many journalists read the detailed legislation.

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By adjadj
02nd Feb 2024 09:15

£100 x 1,100,000 = £110million A nice little earner!

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Replying to adjadj:
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By tanyajackson
02nd Feb 2024 11:43

Nice work, if you can get, or no work in this case.

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Replying to adjadj:
All Paul Accountants in Leeds
By paulinleeds
02nd Feb 2024 12:26

Cannot they invest the penalties in some new staff / systems to answer the phones!

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Replying to paulinleeds:
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By matthewleitch
02nd Feb 2024 13:08

With the right tweaks they could cut the number of people with queries quite significantly. So many of their forms and guides are confusing.

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Replying to paulinleeds:
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By WallyGandy
02nd Feb 2024 17:04

Yes- great idea- but how many will actually pay the £100?

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By tanyajackson
02nd Feb 2024 10:59

1.1 million are still sitting in the HMRC phone queue waiting for help.

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By Duggimon
02nd Feb 2024 11:01

I hope every single one of them appeals on the basis they had a question about filing they couldn't find the answer to on the website and were unable to call.

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By matthewleitch
02nd Feb 2024 11:09

Most HMRC forms (in paper form and online) have at least a few 'usability bugs'. These are things that make people unsure of what to do or even cause them to do the wrong thing. Such bugs cause people to phone the helpline and cause errors. They probably lead to some people just putting of the whole horrible experience.

The type of user feedback that HMRC have sought in the past has usually be the wrong type. They need low volume, super-high-intensity usability testing with the problems being solved.

That would reduce overall cost of compliance, cut helpline use, and reduce late returns.

The economics of small scale usability testing have been studied (decades ago) and what I am suggesting is just the good practice that has been known about for ages.

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By dreifuss
02nd Feb 2024 11:34

I wonder how many of the 1.1 million late filings were actually filed by the next day 1st February?

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Replying to dreifuss:
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By AndrewV12
02nd Feb 2024 12:36

And I wonder how many should not have been issued.

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Replying to dreifuss:
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By johnjenkins
05th Feb 2024 09:07

Apparently if you file by 2400 1st Feb there is no fine. Something to do with a wait of 24 hours I believe. No doubt someone on here will know the exact details.

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By PAULLEWISFCCA
02nd Feb 2024 12:03

William Tell
Wat Tyler
and Robin Hood come to mind.

just who are HMRC anyway - and why are they allowed to demand currency

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Replying to PAULLEWISFCCA:
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By moneymanager
03rd Feb 2024 13:32

I'm reading "The Constitution of no Authority" by Lysander Spooner, a 19th century American lawyer. His basic argument is that no man, not even the original signatories, can be bound by a contract to which they are not party, he even mentions the English Act Statute of Frauds of 1677 which refers to the neccessity for contracts to be written and signed, where did any of us sign up to taxation with menaces?

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Feb 2024 12:03

Well I am one of the above.

The activation code I needed arrived on the 1st so I will deal with the return (My late Father's Life Interest Trust) when back in office on Monday, there is no way I would bother arguing the penalty, and I am not convinced we have good grounds to argue anyway, frankly my time is worth more than £100 and the family solicitor's time is worth(costs) even more than mine.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By AndrewV12
02nd Feb 2024 12:35

I forgot about filing access.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By johnjenkins
02nd Feb 2024 13:43

If you have an agency then I'm pretty sure you don't need an activation code to submit a return.

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By AndrewV12
02nd Feb 2024 12:34

'More than one million people missed the self assessment deadline'

Believe it or not it all comes down to personality, some people like to get it done ASAP, and some,, bring their records in on the 30th January, but there you go, but could this reflect their muddled lifestyles. .... you decide.

But remember, for those that owe loads of tax ..... the £100 fine is neither here nor there.

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Replying to AndrewV12:
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
02nd Feb 2024 18:22

True - I once had a client who racked up £6k in non filings - and he was due SC60 refunds!
Was he Bovvered?
No.
Is he stupid
Yes.
Do I care anymore.........

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By tedbuck
03rd Feb 2024 21:24

I have to say that I think HMRC have deliberately cut staff when they are most needed - tax return time - and then they cut the helplines, again at tax return time.
My conclusion is that they did it deliberately so that HMRC would get their £110,000, 000 in fines because it is easier than having to work.
So far I have seen two cases where HMRC have amended the tax return to show more tax payable and both were incorrect and, of course, a higher liability.
Perhaps HMRC now stands for HM Regular Crooks.
Unfit for office - the 'management' including the Chancellor, the man supposedly in charge (although one has to doubt that he has the vaguest idea of what is going on.) should be sacked as incompetents. The next thing we'll find is that Fujitsu designed the MTD software - no - surely not - but it is HMRC so perhaps.........

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By Open all hours
05th Feb 2024 10:36

As soon as HMRC customer service levels return to an acceptable standard the £100 late fine should be increased to £1000.

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Replying to Open all hours:
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By johnjenkins
05th Feb 2024 10:48

Please explain "HMRC customer service levels".

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Replying to Open all hours:
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By Roland195
05th Feb 2024 13:22

Restricted to tax due?

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
05th Feb 2024 14:59

Actually Tedbuck.. Fujitsi did create at least some of HMRC's computer system.. see here:

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/fujitsu-hmrc-see-todays-tele...

>> On a worrying note... I have received copies of letters from HMRC sent to director clients (who take salary/divs) who apparently no longer have to submit a tax return.
These clients are represented so obviously I'll ignore the letter but those unrepresented may take notice and later when they submit they will be wapped with a penalty so more money to the Chancellor.

No wonder he is looking to cut taxes - he's going to pay for it out of the penalties he's just received.

Let alone the increased late interest.

As for Myrtle Lloyd's comment:
" Anyone who has yet to file and is concerned that they cannot pay in full may be able to spread the cost of what they owe with a payment plan,” Has she tried to get through to HMRC to actually set up a plan?
It would be interesting to know the increase in numbers setting up a Time to Pay this year.

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