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What is a 'reasonable' excuse for a late tax return?

HM Revenue and Customs has reportedly waived a £100 fine for people who have a "reasonable" excuse for filing their tax returns late.

Its website states that a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline is "normally something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting a tax obligation" and includes:

  • The recent death of a partner
  • An unexpected stay in hospital
  • Computer failures
  • Service issues with the tax authority's online services
  • A fire which prevented the completion of a tax return
  • Postal delays

HMRC waives late tax return £100 fine

Credit: PA

People who filed late tax returns have been let off a £100 fine for missing the deadline, it has been reported.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has waived the penalty for those who provided a "reasonable" excuse for being late, according to the Daily Telegraph.

An internal memo leaked to the newspaper revealed that HMRC staff were asked to write off the fine without further investigation for individuals who could show mitigating circumstances, and who appealed after paying their tax bill.

The January 31 deadline for completing tax self-assessment forms was reportedly missed by 890,000 people.

A HMRC spokesman told the Telegraph: "We want to focus more and more of our resources on investigating major tax avoidance and evasion rather than penalising ordinary people who are trying to do the right thing."

Millions face paying back HMRC after tax errors

Millions of people face having to hand money back to HMRC after errors meant they ended up paying the wrong amount of tax on their earnings.

It is estimated that 5.5 million people have paid the wrong amount of tax, with 3.5 million thought to have paid too little and the remaining 2 million having overpaid, meaning they can claim a refund.

The mistakes can occur due to a change in personal circumstances, such as if a person moves jobs or starts receiving benefits.

Millions of people face having to repay money to HMRC because of errors calculating their tax. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

According to tax officials cited by the Daily Telegraph, the average size of the error is about £300.

This is despite the introduction of a new £270 million 'Real Time Payments' scheme designed to make the tax system more accurate by letting people update their information on a weekly or monthly basis.

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