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HMRC offers penalty reprieve for higher rate taxpayers

Fines reduced for late submission of returns

HMRC have announced that higher rate (40%) and additional rate (50%) taxpayers who haven’t yet submitted a self-assessment return for 2009-10 or earlier years can cut the fines they face during a three month ‘amnesty’, which runs until 2 October 2012

HMRC is keen to stress that late taxpayers will not be let off. Fixed penalty fines for late returns will still be charged at £100 once you miss the deadline of 31 October for paper returns or 31 January for online returns. A further £100 fine is levied six months after this if returns have still not been submitted. 

However, for those who act during the tax return initiative (before 2 October this year) can avoid an additional penalty charge of up to 100% of the unpaid tax due. The initiative also allows those who owe tax to spread their payments if they can’t afford to make them all at once.

HMRC offers a chance for people to sort tax affairs

The latest campaign is aimed at 40% and 50% taxpayers. Appealing for compliance, HMRC describes the scheme as, ‘an opportunity to bring your tax affairs up to date’. 

Earlier this year, HMRC ran a similar disclosure initiative aimed at those who trade online. The deadline for this was 14 June 2012. 

Although this deadline has now passed, those who have undeclared earnings on which they should pay tax are still encouraged to declare them via the e-Markets Disclosure Facility Helpline (0845 601 2944) and pay a lower penalty than those who hide their income and are subsequently discovered.

Other tax ‘amnesties’ offered by HMRC

The current HMRC campaigns follow a number of ‘amnesties’ aimed at the self-employed, including plumbers, electricians, tutors and coaches and medics. There have also been campaigns to gather undeclared VAT and unpaid tax linked to offshore accounts. The earliest of these started in 2007. 

Reviewing the effectiveness of its initiatives to gather unpaid tax from various sources, HMRC says that it has raised ‘nearly £510m from voluntary disclosures, and over £120m from non-compliance follow-up’.

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