HMRC will not fine people who file their tax returns late if they have been adversely affected by the coronavirus in what will be a huge relief to millions of self-employed people. Parents who are home-schooling children during lockdown will also be considered to have a “reasonable excuse” if they can show this has affected their ability to complete their accounts on time. HMRC said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file on time even if they can’t pay their tax straight away. But where a customer is unable to do so because of the impact of COVID-19 we will accept they have a reasonable excuse and cancel penalties, provided they manage to file as soon as possible after that.” It is understood that HMRC will make a form available online for anyone who believes they cannot file on time to apply to avoid a late-filing penalty. However, although late-filing penalties can be av oided, penalties for late payment will still stand. Accountants are calling for the filing deadline to be shifted to March 31st. Nimesh Shah, chief executive of Blick Rothenberg, commented. "HMRC will inevitably be inundated with appeals, and they do not have the resources to manage this. Consistency will be difficult, and there could be legal challenges if someone's appeal on the grounds of COVID-19 is rejected while others are accepted." Finally, the Chartered Institute of Taxation has called for HMRC to waive late penalties for returns filed before March 1st to avoid adding a further financial burden to struggling businesses.
Read more: The Sunday Times
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