Missed the tax return deadline? Here’s what you need to do…

The deadline for filing your 2020/21 self-assessment tax return online is 31st January 2022 and it’s important that your self-assessment tax return is completed accurately and on time.


This year, due to the impact Covid-19 is continuing to have on our economy, HMRC has announced that no penalties will be issued if you file your tax return online by 28th February 2022. However, if you are able to pay your tax return by the 31st of January, you must do so.


But what happens if you missed the return deadline?

If you miss the return deadline, you will automatically be fined £100, regardless of how late you submitted your return. And, there are a number of other penalties that you could face if you fail to pay your tax return.


Familiarise yourself with the penalties for filing your self-assessment tax return late:


  • 1 day late – Automatic fixed penalty of £100. This applies even if you have no tax to pay or you have paid the tax you owe on time.
  • 3 months late – £10 per day up to a 90 maximum of £900.
  • 6 months late – £300 or 5% of the tax due, whichever is higher.
  • 12 months late – £300 or 5% of the tax due, whichever is higher. In serious cases, you may even be asked to pay up to 100% of the tax due instead.


All of these penalties are in addition to one another. With this in mind, the minimum late filing penalty for a tax return that is 12-months late will be upwards of £1,600. This of course, depends on the tax liability.

And the penalties for late tax payments are as follows:

  • 30 days late – 5% of tax due – This won’t be charged if you pay your tax due by 1st April. This deferment has been introduced as a result of the pandemic.
  • Six months late – 5% of outstanding tax due at that date
  • 12 months late – 5% of outstanding tax due at that date

Remember, interest will be charged on top of these penalties on the outstanding tax due, plus any outstanding penalties due. This is charged at a rate of 2.75%.

However, there are a number of reasons that HMRC will accept as reasonable excuses as to why your tax return was filed late. These include the following, which are listed on Gov.uk:

  • Your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • You had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • You had a serious or life-threatening illness
  • Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return
  • Service issues with HMRC online services
  • A fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • Postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted
  • Delays related to a disability you have
  • If you’re affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

The following excuses will not be accepted according to HMRC:

  • You relied on someone else to send your return and they didn’t
  • Your cheque bounced or payment failed because you didn’t have enough money
  • You found the HMRC online system too difficult to use
  • You didn’t get a reminder from HMRC
  • You made a mistake on your tax return
  • HMRC also revealed some of the most outlandish excuses it received here.

As soon as you realise that you can have missed the tax return deadline, you must file your return as quickly as possible to avoid further penalties.


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