Brewers Chartered Accountants

HMRC admits self-assessment glitch

A recent technical fault with HMRC’s self-assessment system has resulted in many people being at risk of being incorrectly fined for submitting a late return. 

Some of those who had already filed their tax return for 2017/18 ahead of the 31 January deadline found themselves receiving inaccurate bills from HMRC. These inaccurate bills excluded their payment on account, an advanced, bi-annual payment made for the year ahead, that also has a deadline of 31 January. 

HMRC points to the systems error and has been quick to say that those taxpayers affected would not be charged extra interest or penalties. 

The latest issue comes not long after a previous error with HMRC’s systems, which saw some taxpayers undercharged ahead of the second payment on account deadline of 31 July 2018. 

If you're completing - or have completed - self-assessment this month, please do double check the amount of tax you owe. 

Do I need to submit a tax return? 

You could be one of the 12 million taxpayers in the UK that needs to submit a self-assessment return if you worked for yourself at any time in 2017/18 and earned more than £1,000 outside of PAYE.  

If that sounds like you, you will need to declare this by submitting a tax return online before midnight on 31 January 2019. Please speak to us urgently if you’re in any doubt

Payments on account 

HMRC allows you to pay the tax owed in two instalments: on 31 January and 31 July. These are called payments on account. 

Your first payment on account towards the 2018/19 tax year will be due at midnight on 31 January 2019. If you still owe anything for 2017/18, you will need to settle this at the same time. 

Ask us if you’re not sure how much you should be paying. 

I’m going to be late in filing my return – what counts as a reasonable excuse? 

HMRC gets some pretty outlandish excuses for late payment. Amongst the favourites in 2017/18 were: 

  • I’m too short to reach the post box.
  • A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed.  
  • Our junior member of staff registered our client in self-assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses. 
  • My boiler had broken, and my fingers were too cold to type. 

The Revenue, though, isn’t entirely without heart and classifies a reasonable excuse as: “something that stopped you meeting a tax obligation that you took reasonable care to meet”. These include:

  • Your partner or a close relative dying shortly before the tax return or payment deadline.
  • You had an unexpected stay in hospital which prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs.
  • You had a serious or life-threatening illness. 
  • Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return. 
  • A fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return. 
  • Postal delays that you couldn't have predicted.  
  • Delays related to a disability. 

Talk to us 

If you need help with your self-assessment tax return or any other aspect of personal or business tax, please give us a call on 01483 205850

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