HM Revenue & Customs has extended its 31 January deadline for people to file their online self-assessment tax return to 15 February 2014.
In an email published on the website of tax experts Tolley, HMRC writes: "Certain taxpayers can avoid a late filing penalty, provided they submit their 2012/13 Tax Returns via the HMRC software by 15 February 2014.
"The deadline extension applies to taxpayers who did the following between midnight on 21 January and midnight on 31 January 2014: enrolled for the Self Assessment online service; or requested a replacement user ID or password."
When people register to file a self-assessment tax return for the first time, HMRC sends their user ID and password through the post, along with an activation code that is sent through the post separately.
HMRC fears that many taxpayers have been caught out by not realising it takes time for this registration process to complete.
The fortnight's reprieve means many people will not be caught out with heavy fines for late filing.
HMRC had said it would charge the following penalties to those who filed after midnight on the 31st:
- One day late: a penalty of £100, which applies even if you have no tax to pay or have paid the tax you owe.
- Three months late: £10 for each following day - up to a 90 day maximum of £900. This is as well as the fixed penalty above.
- Six months late: £300 or 5% of the tax due, whichever is the higher. This is as well as the penalties above.
- 12 months late: £300 or 5% of the tax due, whichever is the higher.
In serious cases you may be asked to pay up to 100% of the tax due instead. In some cases the penalties can be even higher than this. These are as well as the penalties above.
HMRC has yet to confirm the action officially. Tolley said the email containing information on the reprieve is generated when people request a User ID from HMRC.
"Any taxpayer who receives such an email should retain it and submit a printed copy to HMRC as part of the appeal against the late-filing penalty," Tolley suggests.