PEOPLE WHO file their self-assessment tax returns on 1 February and 2 February will not be “unfairly” fined, a government minister has said.
The extension is an acknowledgement that planned strike action by some HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) staff on 31 January will cause staff shortages at its call centres – meaning that thousands of taxpayers who have queries about their tax return will be unable to get answers and may decide to delay filing thier returns until after the deadline.
David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said in a statement: “This strike could have caused thousands of people to incur fines, so I am pleased that HMRC has taken this common sense approach. The government does not want anyone trying to file their tax return on time to be unfairly penalised because they were unable to get through for help and advice on the 31st [January].”
Stephen Banyard, acting director general personal tax, said: “We’ve always been very clear that we want the returns – not the penalties. For that reason, we don’t want anyone who can’t get through for help and advice on 31 January to be disadvantaged in any way.”
Earlier on Thursday HMRC told Accountancy Age that although taxpayers would not be given more time to file their self-assessment returns, anyone who unable to get through to a call centre to get a questions answered would have a “reasonable excuse” for filing late and would not be fined.
HMRC said it has received six million online self-assessment returns so far.
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