Almost 900,000 people fail to file their tax return on time

3 February 2015

taxreturnAs we move into February, there will be a dawning realisation for some that they completely failed to notice the 31 January tax return deadline. Not that there’s much excuse for missing it-it’s been around for a very long time now- but an estimated 890,000 will shortly be receiving a letter enclosing a lovely £100 fine for failing to file their online tax returns on time.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)  said that the number of offenders was greater than last year, but well below the 1.6 million recorded in 2010. Or bounty 2010 as the Treasury called it, but even so, 890,000 £100 fines is a nice reward for other people doing nothing.

According to HMRC estimates, if you have missed the deadline you are most likely to be a young man working in the communications industry, with those aged 18-20 living in London the worst culprits. The over 65s were, perhaps unsurprisingly, most likely to get their returns in early.

However, HMRC were also keen to point out that the number of people actually filed on time was also up, with  a record 10.24 million people filing before the 31 January deadline, some 3.8m of those filed in January itself. Some of the increase may be to do with falling unemployment caused by people choosing to go self-employed, who would therefore definitely need to complete a return.

"This is another record-breaking year for self-assessment, with 210,000 more people filing their returns on time than last year," said Ruth Owen, HMRC's director general of personal tax, in an uncharacteristically chirpy manner.

However, if you are one of the dolts who is currently slapping a meaty palm to the forehead wondering how you could have been so daft as to miss the deadline, don’t start shrugging and moving on to more pressing matters. The £100 is just the start of your unnecessary financial woes. If you continue as a delinquent, further fines kick in after three, six and 12 months of non-compliance behaviour, and could cost you a further £1,500.

After the initial (and now probably unavoidable) £100 penalty, the subsequent fines are as follows:

after three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900

after six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater

after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater


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