HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced that a number of taxpayers can avoid a late filing penalty for their 2012-13 Self-Assessment tax returns.
Some taxpayers that use HMRC’s dedicated online filing software may have been caught out when registering to file their returns online due to the delay between registering and being able to file their return.
HMRC has to send the user ID and password through the post and the activation code separately too. Many taxpayers have been caught out by assuming they can file their Self-Assessment return with just their user ID and password without realising the activation code is necessary.
Individuals registering online for the first time or those who have forgotten their user ID and password may not have allowed enough time to receive these details through the post in order to file by 31st January.
HMRC has subsequently announced that a select group of taxpayers can avoid the late filing penalty, issued on 1st February, providing they submit their 2012-13 tax returns via the HMRC software by 15th February 2014.
The deadline extension applies to the taxpayers who did the following between midnight 21st January and midnight 31st January:
Enrolled for the Self-Assessment online service
Requested a replacement user ID and password
The deadline extension only applies to those who were already registered for Self-Assessment and have a unique taxpayer reference (UTR). Therefore, this does not aid those who are late in notifying their liability to charge.
Additionally, since the extension only applies to taxpayers using the free HMRC software to file the 2012-13 tax return, partnerships and trustees cannot benefit as there is no facility to file these returns using this software.
It is also worth remembering that the deadline extension applies to the usual filing deadline for the 2012-13 tax return - 31st January 2014. Taxpayers who were issued with a 2012-13 tax return after 31st October 2013 automatically have three months from the date of issue to file their return and submit their outstanding tax.
Jo Nockels, training and communications manager at TaxAssist Accountants, believes taxpayers should tread carefully with regard to the deadline extension, ensuring they read the smallprint before relying on the new February deadline.
"At the start of this week, there were 2.8 million tax returns still outstanding. In light of this, and the 500,000 tax returns expected from parents affected by the High Income Child Benefit Charge, this is welcome news to taxpayers. After all, penalties should be a deterrent; not a golden egg for HMRC.
"In recent years, the only time HMRC has ever granted any similar concessions, was as a result of technical problems with their website or staff strikes, so this is unprecedented news. But I would warn taxpayers who are looking to make use of the extension, to tread carefully and read the fine print. There are numerous conditions to adhere to and you will need to keep any emails and paperwork you receive from HMRC.
"We have yet to hear anything official from HMRC, but we suspect that HMRC's computer system will not be able to distinguish taxpayers eligible for the extension from everybody else. So the system is still likely to spew out penalties automatically for those eligible for the extension - which will then have to be appealed against quickly."
If you'd like a friendly face to discuss your tax situation with then don't hesitate to call TaxAssist Accountants for a free initial consultation on 0800 0523 555.