More than 800,000 self-assessment tax returns due by last week’s 31 January deadline have yet to be submitted to the Inland Revenue, the highest total ever, writes Ben Griffiths. This comes despite a relaxation in rules giving taxpayers an effective one-day extension to the 31 January deadline for avoiding the penalty. Tax experts are now urging the government to take action to cut back the number of returns which miss the deadline completely. A Revenue spokesman said that out of the 9,088,000 forms issued, 7,888,000 (87% of returns) were received by January 31. However, a new move by the Revenue extended the deadline to 7.30am on 2 February. By the end of 1 February, 8,143,000 or 89.6% had been received. A further 68,000 were dropped in overnight and so were not deemed to be liable for the £100 late filing penalty. In total 8,200,000 were filed without penalties, meaning 90.2% of returns submitted on time. The Revenue said it hoped for a 90% success rate and was ‘delighted’ at the figures. For the first two years of self-assessment, around 650,000 missed the deadline. But this year 877,000 missed it. The Revenue could potentially collect over £80m in penalties. PricewaterhouseCoopers tax partner John Whiting said last week: ‘If one in 13 “customers” fail to comply with their obligations, is the system all it should be?’ Additional measures were taken this year in an attempt to ease the late rush. Tax payments could be made at post offices and tax offices and Revenue offices opened over the weekend. Enquiry centres also accepted tax payments.
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