Missed the tax deadline? It isn’t the end of the world but act quickly

£90m penalties windfall for HMRC for late tax payments and tax returns

If you have missed the 31 January deadline for filing your Self Assessment Tax return, you are in good company. You are one of 9 million people who has yet to file their tax return for 2010-11. HM Revenue and Customs are looking forward to collecting around £90m in penalty fees from people who have filed their self assessment tax returns and/or paid the tax due after the 31 January deadline.

But don’t be disheartened  – act quickly and you can avoid the situation getting any worse. The penalties charged by HMRC for late filed returns and late payments of tax rise as the delay increases, so if it’s simply a question of an oversight, get it in ASAP and you’ll save yourself some hard-earned cash.

And the good news is that if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for missing the deadline then you won’t have to pay any penalty. But the bad news is that HMRC is unlikely to consider excuses relating to forgetfulness, the consumption of documents by pets, or delays due to overseas excursions, to be ‘reasonable.’ The rather short list of examples on their website includes documents lost through theft, fire or flood that can’t be replaced in time, life-threatening illness, for example a heart attack that prevents you dealing with your tax affairs and the death of a partner shortly before the deadline.

If, however, the reason for the delay is that you know that you cannot afford to pay the tax due on last year’s trading, then there is good news. By filing the tax return, even if the tax is unaffordable, you are then in a position to negotiate with HMRC for a ‘time to pay’ agreement. As long as your returns are filed up to date and you have a reasonable record of compliance with the tax authorities, you can put forward a repayment proposal. HMRC are generally willing to discuss sensible repayment plans, particularly if you approach them at the earliest opportunity.

If tax debts are part of a wider debt problem, it may be that a Voluntary Arrangement is the answer. These come in two flavours – Individual Voluntary Arrangments (IVAs) and Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) depending on whether you trade through a limited company or are a sole trader. VAs of either variety can be a good way to solve cashflow problems and HMRC have a specialist department which deals with IVAs and CVAs, so they know what to look for in a well thought through proposal.

We have lots of experience in dealing with debt problems involving HMRC, so for expert, impartial and confidential advice, call us today on 01709 331300.