Self Assessment customers will not receive a penalty for their late online tax return if they file by 28th February, HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRCs’) Chief Executive Jim Harra has announced.

More than 8.9 million customers have already filed their tax return. HMRC expects more than 12.1 million people to complete a Self Assessment tax return over the next few weeks. However, anyone who cannot file their return by the usual 31st January deadline will not receive a late filing penalty if they file online by 28th February.

Last Year’s Bill

It’s important to note that taxpayers are still obliged to pay their outstanding bill by 31st January. Interest will be charged from 1st February on any outstanding liabilities. Customers can pay online, or via their bank, or by post before they file. More information on how to pay is at GOV.UK.

Taxpayers who cannot afford to pay their tax bill on time can apply online to spread their bill over up to 12 months. But they will need to file their 2019 to 2020 tax return before setting up a time to pay arrangement, so HMRC is encouraging everyone to do this as soon as possible.

HMRC’s Chief Executive, Jim Harra, said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file their return on time, so we can calculate their tax bill and help them if they can’t pay it straight away. But we recognise the immense pressure that many people are facing in these unprecedented times and it has become increasingly clear that some people will not be able to file their return by 31 January. Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give them the breathing space they need to complete and file their returns, without worrying about receiving a penalty. We can reasonably assume most of these people will have a valid reason for filing late, caused by the pandemic.”

More Time

Normally, late filing penalties are applied to all returns filed after the 31 January deadline. Those penalties are cancelled if the customer has a reasonable excuse for filing late. However, with all the difficulties brought about by the pandemic, HMRC is not issuing the usual late filing penalties. It is only a one month extension though.

It has become increasingly clear from the filing rate that some taxpayers and agents cannot file on time. Delaying the final deadline until the end of February is regarded as the best way to help.

Don’t Panic

Alongside this, HMRC has increased support for customers who may need help with their tax liabilities. Once they have completed their 2019 to 2020 tax return, customers can set up an online payment plan to spread Self Assessment bills of up to £30,000 over up to 12 monthly instalments.

Customers can apply for self-serve Time to Pay via GOV.UK. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February 2021.

More than 42,000 customers have already used the service, without needing to call HMRC, to manage their liabilities, totalling almost £130 million.

Customers with bills over £30,000, or who need longer than 12 months to pay their bill, can call HMRC 0300 200 3822 to discuss ‘Time to Pay’.

Also, customers who are required to make payments on account, and know their bill is going to be lower than the previous tax year due to loss of earnings because of COVID-19, can reduce their payments on account. Visit GOV.UK to find out more about payments on account and how to reduce them.


Find more information on Self Assessment tax returns, including Help and support completing Self Assessment tax returns.