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Record self-assessment returns as HMRC unmoved on deadline

RECORD NUMBERS of self-assessment filings were received by HM Revenue & Customs as it stood firm on its 31 January deadline day, despite calls to push it back.

ACCA had led the drive from the deadline to be moved to today (Monday 3 February) in order to give thousands of first-time self-assessment filers extra time to submit.

Changes to child benefits and a rise in the last year of self-employed meant there was a high number of first-time self-assessors struggling to meet the deadline in 2014, ACCA claimed.

As it happened, a new high of 10.03 million filed on time. With around 10.74 million expected, some 710,000 face late-filing penalties of £100. There are further penalties after three, six and nine months.

The busiest day for online returns was 31 January, when HMRC received 569,847. The busiest hour occurred between 4pm and 5pm on the same day, when 45,706 returns – more than 12 per second – were received. And 21,027 people left it until the eleventh hour, filing their online return between 11pm and midnight on deadline day.

By way of comparison, there were 10.34 million people in self-assessment in 2011/12, 92.9% paid their dues on time in 2013, leaving around 730,000 people facing the consequences of late payment.

A record 1,566 online returns on Christmas Day in the run-up to 2014’s deadline, up from 1,548 the year before.

The busiest day over the festive period, however, was Christmas Eve, when 17,000 individuals booted up their computers, got their financial information together and sent an online tax return; a 19% leap on the 14,330 in 2012.

Boxing Day saw a further 4,493 people send their returns – a 4% fall from the 4,685 received last year.

In total, 23,059 online returns were received over the three-day period, a 12% increase on the 2012 total of 20,563.

As far as submissions over New Year are concerned, 26,905 returns filed New Year’s eve and 12,938 filed New Year’s Day.

With reference to the calls to push back the deadline, HMRC said: “Individuals receive their notice to file in April/ May, if they decide to file by paper the deadline is the 31 October for paper and for online filing the deadline is 31 January – these are statutory deadlines.

“If someone has registered for our online service, or existing customers have lost their user ID or password and realise they have left it too late, we will allow a bit of extra time for this information to be received [this year until 15 February]. This only applies to taxpayers who did the following between midnight on 21 January and midnight on 31 January 2014; enrolled for the self-assessment online service, or; requested a replacement user ID or password.”

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