Over two million miss self assessment deadlineby
More than two million taxpayers failed to file their tax returns before the self assessment deadline at midnight last night, HMRC has confirmed this morning.
HMRC has tallied the total tax returns submitted and revealed that it’s received 10.2m, which leaves over 2m taxpayers in a position to take advantage of HMRC’s suspension of late filing penalty relief.
At the start of last week, HMRC announced that it was still waiting on 4m tax returns. Today’s news means that half of those returns made it to the tax authority’s servers before midnight on 31 January.
The outstanding 2.3m taxpayers now have until 28 February to submit their returns to avoid receiving a £100 fine, although they will be incurring interest on any tax they owe. This is the second year HMRC has waived late filing penalties to give taxpayers “more breathing space to manage their tax affairs”.
While it has eased some of the deadline day pressure, many accountants have opted against actively advertising the news to clients.
“The deadline hasn’t changed, it’s just the fine has moved,” said Eazitax CEO Gary Jacobs on this week’s Any Answers Live.
Proving that there is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind, there was an eleventh-hour rush to file returns on 31 January. More than 630,000 taxpayers waited until the final day to get their paperwork in order and file their returns.
The biggest surge was between 4pm and 5pm when 52,475 completed their self assessment return. However, 20,947 taxpayers left their tax return obligation until the very final hour between 11pm and midnight.
HMRC is encouraging taxpayers not yet able to file their tax return to pay an estimated amount as soon as possible.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “I’d like to thank the millions of customers and agents who sent us their tax return and paid in time for this week’s deadline.”
She added, “We’re waiving penalties this year, to give those who missed the deadline an extra month. And customers can set up a monthly payment plan online if they’re worried about paying their tax bill.”
Suspension defused ticking time bomb deadline
The mood yesterday morning’s special ‘Deadline Day’ episode of Any Answers Live suggests that many tax agents will have used the penalty suspension to defuse the ticking time bomb aspect of deadline day.
Over half of the viewers (53%) admitted in a snap poll that they still had a handful of returns left to file, but nobody said that they were going to be working late that evening.
In fact, 29% of the viewers were confident that all returns would be filed and they were treating the 31 January as a normal working day, while 16% had filed earlier than last year. Meanwhile, only 2% of the audience still had loads of tax returns left.
EaziTax's Jacobs was one of those that did have outstanding returns on deadline day, but due to the nature of his clients, with many in digital poverty, and being a volume practice, they didn’t expect all returns to be done.
But the pressure is off compared to the old days where he used to have people queuing up outside his office at 11.30pm after they had finished their shift.
Better than last year
Sharon Pocock, the founder of Kinder Pocock and guest on the show, was one of those accountants that had finished before the deadline. Despite being off with sickness for two weeks at the start of the year, she and her team completed the returns before the weekend.
She has now decided to step up her plans for next self assessment season and instead of chasing at the start of October, she will start chasing in April and the plan is to get all tax returns done by November.
Both admitted that year’s self assessment season was better than last January. “Last year was chaotic,” recounted Jacobs. “No one knew where they stood.”
The numbers backed this. Pocock said at the start of last January she had 60% of her returns left to file, while at the start of this year she started with the much more manageable 40%.
The Any Answers audience agreed. Nearly 60% of the viewers said the season was the same as ever, while 28% found it better than last year and only 14% said it was worse than last year.
Covid grant payments
However, what they both pointed at as being a big challenge this year was the tax liabilities around the Covid grants.
“As much as we were out there sharing the information, some clients have missed that and we have some significant tax bills for clients and because it is January that is stressful for clients,” said Pocock
She explained how one client surprised them with £21,000 in SEISS grants that their previous accountant said they should claim. She advised them to speak with the tax office and pay it back.
Jacobs also said the biggest issue this year was how people feel about doing their tax returns.
“There has been a lot more counselling of clients. Technically it’s been better, but emotionally it’s been tough.”
Jacobs and his team have had to deal more so this year with the human side of client management and shouldering their clients’ stresses. “We deal with a lot of sole traders, especially in hospitality and transport, and they weren’t working.
“We have a situation now where they’re not in a position to do their tax return, but more so that they have a tax bill that they’re not in a position to pay.”
Were you working late on deadline day? Or did the late filing suspension defuse the pressure?