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Tax Tips - January 2018

What to do if you receive a Self-Assessment Late Filing Penalty

Self-assessment late filing penalties are issued when a tax return is filed after the official deadlines . For the 2016/17 tax year the deadlines are 31st October 2017 if you file on paper and 31st January 2018 if you file online. Filing after these dates will mean an immediate late filing penalty of £100 being issued.

And it doesn’t stop there! For tax returns filed over:

  • three months late there is an additional daily penalty of £10 per day up to a 90 day maximum of £900
  • six months late there is a further penalty of £300 or 5% of the tax due if this is higher
  • twelve months late there is another penalty of £300 or 5% of the tax due if this is higher. In serious cases, the penalty could be 100% of the tax due instead.

So, these penalties soon mount up to £1,600!  You need to act quickly to stop them. The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is to get your tax return completed and filed. If you need help to do this,either contact HMRC on 0300 200 3310, a tax adviser or a tax charity. HMRC should help you to complete your return and in some circumstances may even provide a face to face appointment.

Contact HMRC immediately if:

  • you think you don’t need to file a tax return and that these penalties have been sent in error. There are many reasons why HMRC may have requested you to complete a self-assessment -they are not just for the self-employed. It may be that your circumstances mean that you do meet the self- assessment criteria


  • if you are a pensioner who usually completes tax returns but HMRC have advised you not to because of the new ‘simple assessment’ process that is being introduced. You shouldn’t be facing penalties now, and HMRC have confirmed that where a pensioner already in Self Assessment pre 2016/17 has failed to complete their 2016/17 tax return, a penalty won’t be issued. Instead, a bespoke letter and calculation form PA302 will be issued explaining how to pay.

Can you appeal?

If you have a genuine reason for not filing your tax return on time you can appeal to HMRC for the penalties to be cancelled. If you received your penalty letter by post, use the appeal form that came with it or follow the instructions in the letter. If you received your penalty notice by email, you can either fill in form SA370 (downloadable from or write to HMRC, giving your reasons for appealing. Their address is: Self Assessment, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS.

The following list is an example of what HMRC consider to be a ‘reasonable excuse’; it is not exhaustive, and neither does it mean that your penalties are guaranteed to be cancelled. More information can be found online by visiting: or by calling HMRC.

  • being a ‘first time filer’ and failing to understand the system
  • having problems with the online filing system
  • losing your records
  • having serious medical or physical conditions which impair your ability to deal with your tax affairs
  • having an illness which occurred around the time that the tax return was due
  • the death or illness of a close relative/partner
  • needing extra help from HMRC or a voluntary organisation like Tax Help for Older People or TaxAid
  • experiencing a combination of events or circumstances which when taken in context can prevent you from conducting your tax affairs and filing returns on time

This article is by Tax Help for Older People registered charity no 1102276 (Scotland no SC045819), offering free tax advice to older people on incomes below £20,000 a year. The Helpline number is 0845 601 3321 or geographical 01308 488066