HMRC have announced that the late filing penalty letters, due to have gone out in February to taxpayers who had failed to complete their online tax returns by the 31st January, have been delayed.
Concerned over the potential increase in call centre usage following a post no-deal Brexit, the HMRC have said that the £100 penalty notices may now be sent out as late as April 30, giving taxpayers only 24 hours’ notice of this penalty before potential further penalty charges would apply.
Setting out their decision, HMRC commented that the issuing of the notices causes a high demand on the call centres when taxpayers contact them to discuss their options. With another expected increase in calls following the March 29 Brexit deadline, the decision has been made to keep staff for EU Exit related queries instead.
The additional penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900, come into effect from May 1 for any outstanding returns. Concern has been raised that this decision will leave hundreds of thousands of people potentially unaware that their return is considered to be late, and therefore at risk of increased penalties. It is thought that around 700,000 taxpayers missed the original January 31 deadline and triggered the automatic £100 fine.
Penalties increase again by 5% or £300, whichever is greater, for defaulting taxpayers who have still omitted to file after six months; and after 12 months, an extra 5 per cent or £300 charge applies, whichever is greater.
HMRC have confirmed that taxpayers will be charged the extra penalties “in appropriate cases, at the normal time” but that they would post the notices sooner “if the withdrawal agreement is agreed” which at the time of writing is looking increasingly unlikely.