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Tax deadline remains 31 January

HMRC confirm tax returns deadline is 31 January

HMRC confirms midnight deadline for tax returns

HMRC has confirmed the deadline for self-assessment tax returns remains 31 January 2009. News reports yesterday suggested that the deadline had been extended but these have proved to be mistaken. Last-minute filers have until midnight to submit an online tax return, or face a fine for being late.

Reasonable excuses

Although they are sticking to the tax deadline, HMRC do give those who are late with their online return a certain amount of leeway. ‘We don’t want anyone to be charged a penalty.’ said a spokesman. ‘Where a customer has tried their best to comply but has not been able to, we bring into play the reasonable excuse provision.’ 

Excuses that HMRC will accept as reasonable grounds for delay include:

  • Serious illness.This must be so serious that it prevented you from controlling your business and private affairs immediately before the due date. Coma, major heart-attack, stroke or any other serious mental or life-threatening illness are listed as ‘a reasonable excuse’ by HMRC.
  • Loss of tax records. Records lost through fire, flood or theft in circumstances in which the information could not be replaced in time to meet the deadline.
  • Bereavement.The death of a close relative or domestic partner shortly before the due date. 

Excuses not accepted 

There are some excuses that HMRC will not accept:

  • Tax return too difficult. You should have asked for help sooner. 
  • Lack of information. You can estimate figures where necessary.
  • Pressure of work. HMRC give ‘ample notice’ of due date.
  • Failure by agent or adviser. You have ultimate responsibility for your tax affairs.

For more details see http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/individuals/sa355_sa326(1)hmrc12_05.pdf. If you have applied for a PIN in order to file online but narrowly miss the deadline because it has fails to arrive, you might avoid a fine by filing as soon as it reaches you and explaining the reason for the delay.  

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