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HMRC punishes late tax returns

Some 850,000 penalties for late tax returns will be issued over the next fortnight, HM Revenue & Customs has announced.

Some 850,000 penalties for late tax returns will be issued over the next fortnight, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced.

The £100 late-filing penalties are being sent to those who failed to send their 2010/11 self-assessment returns to HMRC on time.

Companies that still haven’t sent their return to HMRC risk further penalties if they do not act soon. Businesses whose return is more than three months late will be charged an additional £10 penalty for each day it remains outstanding, up to a maximum of 90 days.

Although the deadline for receiving online returns was 31 January, this year HMRC is not issuing penalties to business owners who sent their 2010/11 return online on 1 or 2 February, following strike action at HMRC’s call centres on 31 January.

Late-filing penalty recipients
can appeal if they think they have a reasonable excuse for not sending back their tax return in time, or they think a penalty should not have been issued for any other reason. Appeals should be made in writing by 31 March.

Examples of a reasonable excuse could include a family illness or bereavement, or a delay in HMRC sending out an online activation code.

Under a new initiative to help its customers, HMRC has confirmed that anyone who receives a penalty, but who believes they don’t need to be in Self Assessment, can call the department on 0845 900 0444.

If HMRC agrees, the return and the penalty will be cancelled. Full details are contained in a leaflet that will accompany the penalty notice.

HMRC‘s Stephen Banyard says, ‘We want the returns, not the penalties. So anyone who still hasn’t sent theirs should do so as soon as possible. People who receive a penalty notice should act now to avoid further penalties. They should send in their return, appeal if they think they have a reasonable excuse, or contact us if they think they shouldn’t have been in Self Assessment.’

See also: Cash for filing tax returns online?

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