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HM Revenue and Customs’ Chief Executive Jim Harra has announced that Self Assessment customers will not receive a penalty for their late online tax return if they file by 28 February.

Members are encouraged to pay their returns by the deadline, but won’t be penalised if unable to do so.

Anyone who cannot file their return by the 31 January deadline will not receive a late filing penalty if they file online by 28 February.

Taxpayers are still obliged to pay their bill by 31 January. Interest will be charged from 1 February on any outstanding liabilities.

Taxpayers who cannot afford to pay their tax bill at once can apply to spread their bill over up to 12 months online. Before setting up a time to pay arrangement, the customer will need to file their 2019-20 tax return.

Late tax returns means the customer is usually fined a penalty, those penalties are cancelled if the customer has a reasonable excuse for the late filing. However, HMRC will not issue late filing penalties this for a month to help taxpayers and agents who cannot meet the deadline.

HMRC’s Chief Executive, Jim Harra, said:

“We want to encourage as many people as possible to file their return on time, so we can calculate their tax bill and help them if they can’t pay it straight away. But we recognise the immense pressure that many people are facing in these unprecedented times and it has become increasingly clear that some people will not be able to file their return by 31 January.

“Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give them the breathing space they need to complete and file their returns, without worrying about receiving a penalty. We can reasonably assume most of these people will have a valid reason for filing late, caused by the pandemic.”

It has become increasingly clear to HMRC from the filing rate that some taxpayers and agents are unable to file on time, and the department has now determined that ensuring no customer will receive late filing penalties if they file online before the end of February is the best way to help them.

The phone helpline and webchat will both be open on 30 and 31 January, in addition to the weekday service. Opening times are below:

  • Telephony and Card Payment Lines: Saturday 30 January: 08:00 to 18:00 and Sunday 31 January: 09:00 to 18:00
  • Webchat: Saturday 30 January and Sunday 31 January: 08:00 to 20:00

To protect against identity fraud customers must verify their identity when accessing HMRC’s online services. They must have two sources of information including:

  • credit reference agency data
  • tax credits
  • P60/payslip
  • UK Passport

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