The 2014/15 self-assessment tax return deadline was 31 January 2016. According to the latest reports from HMRC almost 950,000 missed it and are currently facing an instant penalty of £100, plus extra fines if they don’t file within 3 months.
Last year, up to 890,000 people missed the deadline. That’s a potential increase of 60,000 people year-on-year. Those who missed the deadline now have 30 days to appeal if they believe they have a genuine reason for failing to pay on time. If the tax authorities don’t receive a completed 2014/15 tax return form by April 30th 2016, it will begin to levy £10 a day for the next 90 days. And those who forget to submit by 31st July 2016 will be fined an additional sum of either 5% of the tax owed or £300; whichever is greater.
But if the scenario sounds all too familiar take heart, you may be able to legitimately delay your tax return; you just need to have one of the following reasons:
- You were affected by the floods that hit the UK in December 2015. But this should have been communicated to HMRC before the deadline. HMRC also agreed to take payments in instalments.
- Someone died just before the deadline
- You had an unexpected stay at the hospital
- You have a serious illness, disability or mental health condition
- Computer or software breakdown as your tried to file
- Failure in the HMRC computer system
- Your records got destroyed in a fire, flood or due to theft
You have not received your online activation code despite having applied for it with plenty of time
Remember that the examples above only apply if they actually prevented you from filing. HMRC are unlikely to be sympathetic if they think it’s your fault. And yes, saying things like ‘”my rat ate it”, “Barack Obama is in charge of my finances”, “I was travelling the world trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency” or “My husband ran over my laptop”, won’t cut you any ice with HMRC.
What’s not a reasonable excuse?
- Someone who you asked to send your return forgot
- A cheque bounced because of insufficient funds
- HMRC’s online system was too difficult to use
- HMRC didn’t send a reminder about having to pay
- Your accountant was ill
If you are not sure whether you have a valid excuse for missing the deadline speak to an accountant. Just be prepared that your excuse might not be considered acceptable and you’ll have to be ready to pay the instant £100 penalty.