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Impact of the postal strike on tax return deadline

25th Oct 2009
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HMRC has published and updated information for taxpayers  and agents who wish to file tax returns on paper. The advice starts off by asking taxpayers to allow plenty of time for the return to reach HMRC before the deadline for paper returns of 31 October 2009. However, given the recent regional disruption, in addition to the national strike last week, even taxpayers posting the return on Monday 26 October could run the risk that their return will not be received by HMRC before the deadline, due to backlogs that have built up in some regions.

The advice to taxpayers reminds them that there is plenty of time to file online, but that they remain responsible for ensuring that returns are received on time by 31 October. One suggestion is to hand deliver the return to a local tax office, but as 31 October is a Saturday, the office would not be open on the last day available for filing. In addition, as tax advisors well know, it is not possible to obtain a receipt for a hand delivered return, so the taxpayer would not have evidence that they delivered the return by hand in any event. Agents are encouraged to file online.

Following the established rule about penalties in Steeden v Carver, there will be no penalties issued for returns hand delivered on Monday 2 November, although the return will be logged as late.

The advice concludes with a reassurance that returns which are late because of the postal strike will not attract a penalty provided they were posted before 31 October. In practical terms, therefore the best advice for those not wishing to file online is to ask for proof of posting and post as soon as you can.

Replies (3)

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By cheeeetah
26th Oct 2009 16:29

Avoiding the RM Backlogs

The RM workers treat mail sent during the strike as a BACKLOG and they will not process it until the management agree overtime payments.  They certainly would not want to do 3days work in one day when they return to work after a 2day strike.

So, the trick seems to be to NOT post a letter/packet while the strike is on.  ie last Thursday and Friday were strike days and any post posted on those days would have been collected up on Saturday and taken off to some holding warehouse as strike-day mail.  That mail will not be handled on Monday, and possibly not handled for many weeks, which is unfortunate if the mail was inviting people to an imminent function etc.  Waste of money sending it.

The next regular collection was on Monday/today, which  would be treated as normal mail and handled properly.

If you have mail to send just prior or during the strike days, do not send it out.  Keep it to one side until the strike finishes, and allow for that strike mail to be collected and carted off to some place, and then post your mail for the subsequent collection.  That way you will minimise the strike impact, and your tax return will just be 2-3 days late, rather than lost in some warehouse until after Xmas, maybe.


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By pauljohnston
27th Oct 2009 12:11

There seem to be two options for delivery

1  Special Delivery or Courier

2 Hand delivery to any HMRC office.

Personally the worry of using standard royal mail for delivery on time is greater than the cost of suggestions at !

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By User deleted
28th Oct 2009 14:40

tax returns deadline
But what about vat returns?

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