Delay tax returns say ACCA

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ACCA is urging HMRC to push back tomorrow’s self-assessment deadline by at least three days after news that some 2.8 million individuals have yet to file their tax return by the 31 January deadline say Harris & Co accountants Northampton

The institute wants to see the filing deadline switched to Monday 3 February at the earliest to give the thousands of people who are submitting self-assessment for the first time the chance to avoid a fine.

ACCA says the changes to the child benefits regime, and the rise in the number of self-employed people means there will be a high number of first-time self-assessors struggling to get their details in on time.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA head of taxation, said:

‘HMRC has a common-sense decision to make. Either it can stick to the deadline and penalise all those families and self-employed people who are struggling to get to grips with the self-assessment process, or it can do the right thing and give them a lifeline by extending the deadline. Self-assessment is not easy and there are fines starting at £100 for missing the deadline even if you don’t owe any tax.’

Changes to the child benefit system mean any parent who earns between £50,000 and £60,000 can elect to continue to receive child benefit but they must complete a self-assessment form and will have to repay a proportion of the benefit they receive, by way of a tax charge, at the end of the tax year.

Latest figures suggest over 100,000 individuals have still to register for self assessment in order to initiate this process. ACCA warns that failure to complete a self-assessment could result in having to repay part of or all of the benefit claimed by way of a tax charge on the highest earner of the couple, but also interest and penalties on the tax unpaid, even if it is an innocent mistake.

Roy-Chowdhury said:

‘It’s not an easy form to complete and often mistakes will happen because people filling them in don’t know for sure what should be included. We urge HMRC to do the right thing and postpone the deadline.’

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