HMRC refuse to move on filing deadline

Representatives from the professional accountancy bodies met with HMRC to urge them to move the 31 January 2021 filing deadline in response to the COVID-19 situation and whilst HMRC ultimately decided not to grant an extension, they have clarified the position on penalties.

Self-assessment 

Following the impact of the current pandemic, most people expected HMRC to grant some element of leeway with the upcoming 2019/20 self-assessment deadline on 31 January 2021 and whilst arguments for an extension were heard, HMRC have chosen to stick with the deadline this year.

Penalty 

They have however, confirmed that no penalties will apply where it can be demonstrated that the individual was unable to file their return because of the impact of coronavirus. HMRC will accept personal or business disruption as a “reasonable excuse”, though it will be down to the individual to explain exactly how they have been affected.

The deadline for appealing against late filing or payment penalties has also been extended from the usual 30 days to three months.

It is still our recommendation that the returns are filed on time and this is not used as a backstop for late filing due to lack of reasonable care. HMRC will likely be evaluating the excuses used by taxpayers in order to charge penalties where appropriate. If all of the information is not readily available, then consider using estimates and filing provisional returns and amend/finalise the returns later on.

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