HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is set to waive fines for taxpayers who file their tax returns late, providing that they can prove that the delay was because of COVID-19.
HMRC confirmed the news in a statement, with the 31 January filing deadline looming. The decision was taken with England entering a national lockdown and Wales and Scotland also under lockdown restrictions, with concerns being raised over the pressure on workers to meet the deadline.
For example, with schools teaching remotely for the majority of students other than key workers and vulnerable children, the pressures of homeschooling could be accepted as a reasonable reason for a delay in tax filing.
Showing that either the individual, a member of their household or their accountant has had coronavirus could also be accepted as a valid reason for delay.
Approximately 12 million people file their own tax return because they are either self-employed, a landlord or have a second form of income, with HMRC stating that half of these individuals had filed a return as of 4 January 2021, meaning that millions could benefit from the waiving of fines for late returns.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file on time even if they can’t pay their tax straight away.
“But where a customer is unable to do so because of the impact of Covid-19 we will accept they have a reasonable excuse and cancel penalties, provided they manage to file as soon as possible after that.”
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