What to do if you miss the tax return deadline

January 2019

The deadline for filing your 2017/18 self-assessment tax return online is 31st January 2019. The deadline for paper tax returns was 31st October 2018.

In some very rare situations, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) may give you a different filing date for your tax return. But otherwise, it is not normally possible to get an extension to the filing deadline. 

Regardless of how you filed your tax return, any outstanding tax must be paid by 31st January 2019.


What are the penalties for late tax returns?

If HMRC asked you to complete a tax return for 2017/18 and you missed the deadline, you will automatically be fined regardless whether you're only one minute late or how small your tax liability is. 

The penalties for filing your self assessment tax return late are currently as follows:

These penalties are in addition to one another, so the minimum late filing penalty for a tax return that is 12-months late will be upwards of £1,600 depending on the tax liability. 

There are plans to overhaul the penalty system and make it similar to how driving licences work, i.e. a points-based system. 

My tax return is overdue, what should I do?

Firstly you need to consider if the tax return is required or if you have a legimate reason for the delay:

Cancelling a tax return

If you think you are not required to submit a tax return, you should telephone HMRC and request the tax return to be withdrawn. If HMRC agrees, you no do not need to file a return and any penalties issued for missing the deadline should be cancelled.

Remember to note down who you spoke to and when, what outcome is expected and when you will receive their decision.

HMRC is unlikely to withdraw a return if you have been self-employed at any point during the tax year – even a very short time will count. Typically, you will only have two years from the end of the tax year for which the return is due to request its withdrawal, but it's always better to deal with your tax affairs swiftly. 

Reasonable excuses

If you have a good reason for the delay, you may be able to appeal against the penalty.

HMRC list several common examples of Reasonable Excuses on its website.

These include:

What's unlikely to be reasonable excuse?

The following aren’t usually accepted as a reasonable excuse:

HMRC also revealed some of the most outlandish excuses it received here.

If you've missed the deadline, file your tax return as quickly as possible

If the tax return can't be withdrawn and you don't have a good excuse, the next best thing is to file your tax return as soon as is practical- even if you can't afford your tax bill yet. As you've seen, the late filing penalties will increase the longer the delay. 

How long do I have to change my tax return? 

If you make a mistake on your tax return, you can amend it but you must make your changes by 31st January 2020 for a 2017/18 self asssessment tax return. 

How we can help

One of the best ways to make sure you tax return is completed correctly and on time is to contact your local TaxAssist Accountant, who would be happy to help.

We can also request a tax return is withdrawn and help you with a Reasonable Excuse claim to give you the best chance of appealing successfully.

If you’d like to know more about tax returns, or any other tax-related matter, please call us on 0800 0523 555 or us our online contact form.