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Nearly one million late filers miss SA deadline

Almost one million taxpayers failed to meet the 31 January midnight deadline, making them liable for an immediate £100 fine.

4th Feb 2020
Practice Editor AccountingWEB
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Deadline for HMRC self assessment
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HMRC has revealed that 958,296 taxpayers (8.18% of the returns due) missed the deadline, which is slightly better than last year when 1,096,186 tardy taxpayers incurred the immediate late filing fine.

Thousands of these taxpayers left their submission quite literally until the last minute with 26,562 rushing their return through between 11pm and 11.59pm on deadline day. In total, 702,171 taxpayers waited until the final day. HMRC recorded the the peak filing activity as between 4pm and 4.59pm where 56,969 returns were submitted.

Out of the 11.7m taxpayers required to submit their 2018/19 tax returns, HMRC reported that 11.1m met the deadline – a number it described as “record breaking”. This number includes expected returns, unsolicited returns and late registrations.

With three million tax returns outstanding a week before deadline day, the final number goes to show the amount returns shovelled during the final week. At the start of 2020, HMRC reported that there were five million outstanding – with the 3,003 Christmas day filers doing little to dent the overall number.

HMRC also had further reason to cheer as more than 10.4m of those taxpayers choose to file online, accounting for 93.95% of the total filed.  

In comparison, this year’s figures have overtaken 2019’s tax season results. By 31 January last year, HMRC had 10,833,177 returns, which sounds less impressive when matched against this year’s 11,122,967 returns.

These comparisons are using HMRC's new methodology of presenting SA data which now aligns with legislative changes (12 February 2019) that clarifies the treatment of voluntary (Unsolicited) self assessment returns.

Easy January?

Early signs in Any Answers suggest that many accountants enjoyed a more trouble-free and fruitful self assessment season than previous ones. AccountingWEB regular ireallyshouldknowthisbut gloated two days before 31 January that they were finished after filing 300-plus returns.

Readers like Wanderer were quick to respond with how early they polished off their final returns. After filing over 220 and still waiting on two, the AccountingWEB reader decided to spend the remaining time sending out bills.

Other members like David Plastow described deadline day as a “doddle”, while SXGuy had an “easy January” with only four to file due to spreading the load mid-year. And Memyself-eye even had enough time to sort out a “head in sand” new client who still needed his 2017/18 return sorted.

Not everyone shared these sentiments, though. Jennifer Adams described the final days as “worse than hell”.

Like others in the discussion, Adams is now looking to follow HMRC’s steps and impose a late filing surcharge for those that don’t meet her deadlines.  

“I reminded clients and in previous years have told them that unless they get their stuff in before end Nov then I couldn’t guarantee submission in time. But this year for various reasons I didn’t and they all took advantage.”

“We've all read previous years comments about how to get clients to get info in on time but this has been a real lesson this year.”

How was your self assessment season? What would you do differently? Share your experiences in this five minute survey.

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By petestar1969
05th Feb 2020 10:36

I had one left to do, no records, but he did give me he records for his 2015/16 return (which he "forgot") and amendments to 2016/17 and 2017/18 so not all bad.

For years I've been charging clients more based on how late they leave it, it works...try it.

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