Three million could miss new SA deadline

John Whiting, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and chairman of the
Chartered Institute of Taxation’s tax policy sub-committee, told Accountancy Age
that a tripling of the number of late returns was possible. ‘The current figure
is one million. It’s going to be a lot more than that. What is to say it won’t
be three million?’ he said.

HM Revenue & Customs plans to bring the deadline back to 30 September for
paper returns, and the end of November for online filing.

The tax profession is up in arms over the move, saying it will not be able to
coax clients into getting their details ready by the proposed dates. Advisers
have expressed anger over the lack of consultation and feel that HMRC does not
recognise the contribution they make to the efficient working of the tax system.

Some are threatening to file estimates, rather than full returns, and deliver
full details only at the last minute when liabilities are paid, on 31 January.

Three million late payers would mean a colossal amount of money being imposed
in fines. Taxpayers pay £100 currently for filing late, though some have
suggested that the penalty could rise.

An HMRC spokesman said: ‘We will be working very hard to ensure that the
figure is a lot lower than three million.’

Sources involved in discussions over the future of self assessment filing
also confirmed this week that they were putting together impact assessment plans
to show the effect of new filing dates upon filers for the Treasury. HMRC and
the accounting institutes are expected to meet again to discuss the implications
within the next two weeks.

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