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Businessman running on papers AccountingWEB The race is on as 3.8m taxpayers still have to file tax returns

Tax returns still not filed by 3.8m taxpayers


With one week to go before the self assessment deadline, 3.8m taxpayers still have to rush to file their 2022/23 tax returns. The continued restrictions on HMRC’s helpline means many have to power through with little support. 

23rd Jan 2024
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The new year saw 5.7m taxpayers still left to file, but with one more week to go, the number has only decreased to 3.8m. 

HMRC is encouraging these taxpayers to submit their tax returns, advising for less distraction and more action. 

The tax department is expecting more than 12.1m tax returns to be filed for the 2022/23 tax year – 8.3m online returns have already been received but for 3.8m, the race is on. 

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “If you are a self assessment taxpayer, now is the time to take action and get your return done.”

Restrictions to HMRC’s helpline 

HMRC has advised taxpayers to check for the answer online before ringing the helpline. “It is much quicker, and the most common queries can be answered within a couple of minutes.”

However, for those who need to use the Agent Dedicated Line (ADL), the restrictions that were put in place at the start of December have made it increasingly difficult for accountants and taxpayers to solve their issues. 

Accountants have found these restrictions frustrating as they feel that they have been abandoned in their time of need. Many have argued that it has made the self assessment season a lot more difficult as they are having to wait for long periods to get through to the ADL. 

AccountingWEB reader, OrmeGoat said, “Completing tax returns this year is more difficult than previously due to the inefficiency of HMRC. I have always made sure all tax returns have been submitted on time. This year I will struggle. My appeal against any subsequent penalties will highlight the difficulties in dealing with HMRC.”

Don’t get caught out by penalties 

HMRC is encouraging the 3.8m tardy taxpayers to file before the deadline, but the tax department could be looking at a windfall if many of those late filers fail to do so by midnight on 31 January.

Late filers are warned that they risk more than just a £100 fine as late payment interest (LPI) charges have reached their highest level in 16 years. The current LPI rate is 7.75%, marking the highest level since January 2008.

Dawn Register, head of tax dispute resolution at BDO, said: “There could be tens of thousands of people who will have been drawn into the self assessment tax net for the first time in the 2022/23 tax year. Many may be unaware of their obligations to file a tax return before 31 January 2024 and could run the risk of penalties.”

She continued, “While many people might think that a £100 fine is a small price to pay, those who miss the deadline and pay their tax late can get a shock once they see the impact of late payment interest charges, which are now at their highest level for 16 years.”

Replies (12)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
23rd Jan 2024 16:02

I would be interested to know how many of these are agent ones.

Quite a small %.
Most of the last minute ones will be individuals filing their own.
Or agencies who file the lot in one go.

Thanks (2)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
By FactChecker
23rd Jan 2024 16:48

... or as mentioned every year (in the absence of definitive answers from HMRC), those who've died / those who've emigrated / or any other number of reasons (not all legal) that mean they never will file 2022-23.

And "the tax department could be looking at a windfall" is just the FUD that HMRC like to promote ... it costs them nothing and generates a faint whiff that they know what they're doing. If only!

Thanks (3)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
By JohnB
24th Jan 2024 11:14

As of this morning I still have 38 returns to submit.
Which is 1/100,000 of the total or 0.001%
If that helps.

Thanks (1)
By Mr Hankey
23rd Jan 2024 18:23

If my maths is correct (which often it isn't) I calculate there are 2,678,400 seconds during January.

So if at the start of the year there were 5.7 million that still needed to be filed, that's a rate of over 2 per second going 24/7 for an entire month that need filing. Quite a staggering work rate, even for a computer.

Thanks (2)
By spilly
23rd Jan 2024 22:42

50% of those are still hanging on phone lines waiting for HMRC to bother to pick up. Is the inability of HMRC to man their phone lines efficiently a viable excuse for a delayed filing?

Thanks (4)
Replying to spilly:
By OrmeGoat
24th Jan 2024 09:45

I'm going to use it.

Thanks (4)
Rob Swan
By Rob Swan
24th Jan 2024 07:26

'Customer Services' In this context, surely that's an oxymoron. And, apparently, there's a very senior civil servant willing to take responsibility for this farcical situation.
MTD ITSA might better be 'Making Tax Difficult'... Apparently it hasn't been delayed at all.
I'm old enough to remember when a local Tax Inspector was happy to visit in person and offer a lot of helpful advice. Those were the days before they were all - presumably - seconded to the Office of Tax Simplification. Whatever happened to...
Oh, never mind; rant over.

Thanks (2)
By jon_griffey
24th Jan 2024 08:54

Doesn't bode well for when quarterly tax returns are required under MTD.

Thanks (2)
By twohaporth
24th Jan 2024 10:30

Not surprised and when submitted rubbish demands issued by HMRC with no explanation - let's have a system where they get penalties as well for not meeting deadlines and taking a year to respond to a letter or, better still, sack all the management and start again. It was certainly better before digitalisation. Ca va sans dire!

Thanks (3)
By Nick Belton
24th Jan 2024 12:51

On 19th January - so last week - I received a letter from HMRC dated 15th January 2024 that said "I'm sorry for the delay in replying. Thank you for your letter dated 12th January 2023 in respect of claims to overpayment relief for the tax year 2017-18 and 20180-19...please note, both tax years are now out of date for overpayment relief claims, however if you send us a valid claim by 29th January 2024 we may be able to give relief'.

So they take over a year and I get - with this postal service - barely a week to respond. It's a joke.

Thanks (3)
Replying to Nick Belton:
Rob Swan
By Rob Swan
24th Jan 2024 14:39

You have postal service??

Thanks (0)
paddle steamer
24th Jan 2024 15:48

Well. I am down to three, one of my employers (will likely speak with him before close today and get it submitted), my own and a trust landed on me last minute where I await HMRC activation code.

Why my own, is that not reprehensible for an accountant, well I keep wanting to check if I changed any gift aid payments mid year, I only go onto my bank from my home computer and by the time I have been getting home each night I have been knackered and have fallen asleep after my meal.

Steel myself, check tonight before eating.

Thanks (1)