With the self-assessment tax return date now passed, many contractors who have submitted the required details themselves will be pleased at the prospect of almost a full year without having to concern themselves with sending the necessary details to HMRC.
But what if something has gone wrong, and HMRC come knocking highlighting a problem?
If this does happen, and you are handed an unwelcome £100 fine, the advice from one industry organisation is to not simply accept it.
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has urged those who may have missed the self-assessment deadline for a legitimate reason to appeal against any penalties they may have incurred.
Though the organisation does support HMRC in trying to get all self-assessments in by the original 31 January date, those who face fines despite having reasons for doing so are being encouraged to appeal, rather than simply accept due to a lack of knowledge about their rights in such situations.
“We are anxious that people may feel somewhat panicked by penalty notices from HMRC and just pay financial sanctions for filing Self-Assessment forms late without considering that there may be a perfectly good reason for the delay in filing that may make them eligible for special treatment,” said Anthony Thomas, chairman of LITRG.
The HMRC does accept what it refers to as a ‘reasonable excuse’ for not completing a tax return in time, and will remove any fine if this is found to be the case.
Reasons deemed reasonable include a recent bereavement, flooding or severe weather problems, serious illness, and other causes beyond the taxpayer’s control.
If this applies to you, LITRG is saying that a quick turnaround is key to getting any fine scrapped. Provided full details are sent to HMRC via a form available on the Gov.uk website or a letter is sent, there is a chance the fine will be quashed.
HMRC can also charge a fine for what it deems a ‘careless’ tax return. Though this term is somewhat vague, the intention is to help ensure each tax return to be accurate and genuine.
LITRG is urging those who may have incurred a fine of this nature to respond explaining their situation, especially if a genuine error was made in the return rather than one of a careless ilk.
“It is important that people are aware of their rights and duties,” Thomas added. “If someone who is charged a penalty for inaccuracy in their return believes their mistake was not careless as defined by HMRC, but an honest mistake despite taking reasonable care, then they should appeal against the penalty notice.”