One million miss tax deadline: can you appeal?

4 February 2020

Almost one million people face fines for missing the tax return deadline on Friday 31 January. Will they be able to appeal?


Nearly one million taxpayers have missed the self-assessment tax return deadline of January 31 and have been fined.

Some 958,296 taxpayers missed the crucial deadline, the latest data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed.

Those who missed the deadline face the following fines:

  • One day late: £100
  • Three months late: £10 per day, plus the above penalty
  • Six months late: the highest of £300 or 5% of the tax due, plus the penalties above
  • 12 months late: all of the above penalties plus the higher of £300 or 5% of the tax due. (In some cases you could be fined 100% of the tax owed to HMRC)

Angela MacDonald, director general for customer services at HMRC says: "Customers who have missed the deadline should contact HMRC.

"The department will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders.

The excuse must be genuine and HMRC may ask for evidence."

Legitimate excuses for filing late

If you have a genuine excuse for filing your tax return late you may be able to appeal your late fine.

Each appeal will be decided on a case by case basis.

HMRC may accept the following reasons:

  • Serious illness
  • The death of a partner or family member
  • Fire, flood or theft
  • Computer failure
  • Issues with HMRC’s online services

Appeals will be decided on a case by case basis and if yours is successful, you'll need to make your payment as soon as possible after your excuse is resolved. 

Check out GOV.UK for a full list of legitimate reasons HMRC will accept. 


Missing the tax deadline

Realistically, the majority of people should be able to complete their tax return no later than three months after the end of the year. That leaves about 200 days to prevaricate. HMRC send numerous reminders by e-mail so really only prolonged serious illness is an excuse.

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