The self-assessment tax return deadline has been extended by two days due to staff strikes at HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC).
The official deadline for submitting forms is 31 January but no fines will be handed out to anyone who submits their self-assessment tax return online in the first two days of February.
Public sector union the PCS is planning strikes at call centres and inquiry offices to protest against the appointment of private companies to run call-handling trials in two contact centres. This will significantly affect taxpayers calling up with last minute queries about their tax returns, so HMRC has pushed back the deadline to 2 February.
"The strike could have caused thousands of people to incur fines, so I am pleased that HMRC has taken this common sense approach," says David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury. "The Government does not want anyone trying to file their tax return on time to be unfairly penalised because they were unable to get through for help and advice on the 31st."
"We have always been very clear that we want the returns – not the penalties," says Stephen Banyard, HMRC's acting-director of general personal tax. "For that reason, we do not want anyone who cannot get through for help and advice on 31 January to be disadvantaged in any way."
Anyone who has to fill out a self-assessment tax return but files after 2 February will be fined £100 regardless of whether tax is owed or not. Penalties can mount up over time to £1,300 if a tax return hasn't been submitted within six months and £1,600 after a year.