Aside from today being the Lunar New year (the beginning of the year of the horse), it is also the deadline for the online submission of tax self assessments for tax year ending 2103. Failure to meet the deadline will result in an automatic fine of £100, irrespective of whether there is any tax owing or not.
Suffice to say, human nature being what it is, a number of people have yet to submit their tax returns; in fact, according to media estimates, some two million people have yet to file their returns.
This tardiness has prompted the ACCA to call for HMRC to put the deadline back to 3 February.
Aside from human nature being a primary factor in this tardiness, another contributing factor is likely to be the change in child benefit rules which has created a large number of first time self assessment taxpayers.
ACCA's head of taxation Chas Roy-Chowdhury claimed that HMRC had a "common sense" decision to make. He is quoted by AccountancyAge:
"Either it can stick to the deadline and penalise all those families and self-employed people who are struggling to get to grips with the self-assessment process.As to whether HMRC will heed ACCA's call for a relaxation depends on how today turns out, and what form of media/political pressure ensues if vast swathes of middle class child benefit receivers are hit with fines for tardiness.
Or it can do the right thing and give them a lifeline by extending the deadline. Self-assessment is not easy and there are fines starting at £100 for missing the deadline even if you don't owe any tax.
The circumstances around this year's deadline are different in that there will be a high number of people who will never have done self-assessment in their lives. They are going to miss the deadline not because they have been putting it off, but because they are newcomers. If reports are to be believed that two million have yet to meet the deadline just two days before it closes, then it is likely a lot of people will miss it."
Quite honestly I don't see an extension to 3 February as making much of a difference; the chances are that those first timers who have not yet filed may be blissfully unaware that they have to file, and will only realise that when they are fined.
The more likely outcome will be that certain late filers will, if they have a reasonable excuse (eg first time ignorance), have their fines waived.
I should note that there is in fact a partial extension of the deadline to 15 February, but only for certain self assessment taxpayers.
As per Tolley the deadline extension applies to taxpayers who did the following between midnight on 21 January and midnight on 31 January 2014:
- enrolled for the Self Assessment online service, or
- requested a replacement user ID or password
As ever, views and comments are welcome.
Happy Lunar New Year!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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