If you keep up to date with accountancy news, you may be aware of the rumours that HMRC have been waiving the £100 late self-assessment fine that is usually imposed by HM Revenue & Customs, if the filer has a “reasonable excuse”.
HMRC staff were asked to waive the £100 fine if people with mitigating circumstances appealed after paying up – this was all reported in an internal memo allegedly leaked to the Daily Telegraph.
It is estimated that up to 890,000 people could have potentially benefitted from the amnesty for missing the 31 January deadline as HMRC deals with a backlog of nearly a million letters from British taxpayers.
HMRC said it was trying to focus its resources on tackling major tax avoidance instead of “penalising people for trying to do the right thing”.
However, previously, people who appealed the fine faced a two- or maybe even three-week investigation of their tax affairs before a decision was reached.
Leaked HMRC memo
The HMRC memo questioned the “lengthy” process, especially given that the “overwhelming majority of appeals” were actually accepted.
The alleged leaked document stated;
“Our penalty regime is intended to influence customer behaviour, but also be clear and cost effective, fair and proportionate.
“The current way of managing penalties does not meet these objectives, and so we have decided to take a more proportionate approach where a customer has filed their return late, and then appealed against their penalty.
“This means that in the vast majority of cases we will be accepting the customer’s grounds for appeal, and we can cancel the penalty.”
So, have HMRC really waived £100 fine for late self-assessment filing?
It may be a hunch, but perhaps the recent act of goodwill could be something to do with a backlog of paperwork and the need for a less complicated appeals system?
In any event, don’t risk filing your self-assessment late – a spokesman for HMRC did add that despite the policy, nobody will be getting off the hook unless they’ve now sent in their return and “have a good reason for sending it in late”.
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