24 February 2012
If you failed to file your tax return for 2010/11 electronically by the deadline of 31 January 2012, you may be faced with a £100 penalty notice from HMRC. This can apply irrespective of whether there was any tax to pay.
Staff in some of HMRC’s call centres were on strike on 31 January, and HMRC therefore announced in advance that they would treat all returns that were received by midnight on 2 February, as though they were submitted by 31 January. No penalty should therefore arise in such cases, irrespective of whether the taxpayer was affected in any way by the strike action. Similarly, interest will not be charged on payments due on 31 January that were paid on 1 or 2 February.
If you receive a penalty notice that you do not think is due because your return was submitted within the extended time limit, you may appeal against it. HMRC recently announced that the deadline for such an appeal is 31 March. The statutory limit is in fact 30 days from the issue of the penalty. The HMRC announcement may indicate a relaxation of the time limit for penalties (if any) issued before 1 March, but it cannot reduce the 30-day time limit for penalties issued after that date.
In addition HMRC has announced that taxpayers who received a tax return, but who do not meet the criteria for being within the self-assessment system, may apply for both the return and any penalty to be cancelled. This does not involve a formal appeal.