Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beware misleading press reports about late filing fines

If you file your tax return late, you'll be fined £100 unless you have paid all your tax by 31 January. Nothing has changed in this regard for many years.

Still have published a press release that the Press Association has circulated as a 'story' that will be all over the press on Wednesday. It starts:

"Workers could be fined more than £440 million this year for handing in their self-assessment tax forms late or miscalculating how much they owe, it has been estimated."
'Workers' implies lower paid employees doesn't it? But only a minority of employees have to send in tax returns. The estimate was calculated by reference to the total number of tax returns filed each year.

And anyone 'handing in their self assessment tax forms' in January will be deemed to be late. The deadline was 31 October. You have to file online in January to be safe.

Frankly late filing penalties are easy to avoid. If you have to file a tax return this year get on and sort things out in good time. Hardly anyone has a justifiable 'reasonable excuse' for leaving things to the last minute.

Incidentally, the rules change next year, when the fine will be £100 for late returns regardless of whether you have paid all your tax by 31 January.

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