The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has urged taxpayers to complete their Self Assessment tax return online by 31 January or risk an automatic £100 fine from HMRC.
It comes as HMRC has reportedly “resisted requests” from professional bodies to either extend the January deadline or withhold the automatic fine, despite ongoing pressure on individuals and accountancy firms amid the ongoing pandemic.
The LITRG said it now hopes the public “heed its warning” as half of people are yet to file tax returns. HMRC only received 6.6 million tax returns as of 4 January 2021, according to the group, out of a total 12.1 million returns due to be filed before the deadline.
Nonetheless, HMRC has said it will accept pandemic-related disruption as grounds to appeal a penalty, though taxpayers must appeal within three months of the penalty charge.
Victoria Todd, head of LITRG Team, said: “Despite the continuing disruption to our daily lives caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that people understand the 31 January Self Assessment deadline remains and act without delay.
“There is still time to avoid a penalty if you are one of the millions of people yet to complete and submit a tax return online for 2019/20. If you have not yet registered for online filing, this process can take a few weeks so you will need to do it now.”
The deadline for payment of any tax due for 2019/20 also remains 31 January 2021, which includes any deferred payments originally due on 31 July 2020. Taxpayers unable to settle these amounts in one payment can make a time-to-pay arrangement with HMRC, however.
Todd added: “We know that people may be facing financial difficulties because of the pandemic. If you think you might find it difficult to pay your tax bill, you must still try and submit your tax return so that you know how much tax you are due to pay.
“You may qualify for HMRC’s expanded online service, which allows you to pay your tax bill in instalments over a maximum of 12 months. If you do not qualify for this or need longer to pay, you should get in touch with HMRC as soon as possible.”