Tax deadline and filing update

Specialist medical accountants are advising private consultants and GPs to be aware that the 31 January deadline, by which time every taxpayer must submit their self-assessment tax returns, has not been extended. 

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) met with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) requesting an extension to the deadline and cancellation of consequent ‘late filing fees’ due to the unmitigated circumstances surrounding this year.

After much deliberation, the Tax Faculty of ICAEW received a response from HMRC chief executive Jim Harra saying: ‘[HMRC] wants to encourage as many customers as possible to complete their returns by 31 January 2021, even if they can’t pay in full, because filing their return is key to crystallising their self-assessment liability and being able to get our support, if they need it, to pay their tax.’

But no one will have to pay a penalty if they cannot file on time because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stanbridge Associates accountants’ director Vanessa Sanders urges clients to heed Mr Harra’s warning: ‘HMRC do not want to complicate this message by sending a blanket signal that it’s OK to file late. That could have some serious disadvantages for our customers; de-coupling the payment and filing dates might confuse customers, and even lead to non-payment, interest accruing and late payment penalties being triggered. It would also encourage some customers to file late who really don’t need to.’

Heed warning

‘HMRC also stated they appreciate the unprecedented circumstances for several businesses, and are aware some customers may not be able to submit on time due to the Covid-related impact on themselves, their business, or their agent. 

‘Should they submit their tax return late triggering a penalty, each taxpayer will have a three-month extension period to appeal based on the reasonable excuse of a Covid-related circumstance.

Mrs Sanders states that there were no guarantees: ‘Please be mindful, however, that “Covid-related” does not necessarily mean that if, in January, you were required to work extra shifts as medical staff and so ran out of time, because HMRC also remind us that 31 January 2021 is ten months after the fiscal year ended, so please ensure you prepare and submit now.’