HMRC strike is “reasonable excuse” for late filing

It’s the final weekend before HMRC’s deadline for filing income tax self-assessment forms and some accountants will no doubt be slaving over their laptop making sure their figures are accurate.

The deadline actually falls on Tuesday, January 31st, but in a move that may delight the people who leave things until the very last minute, a government minister said individuals who file on Wednesday and Thursday next week will not be fined unfairly.

Staff at HMRC call centres are planning industrial action on deadline day and thousands of people will be unable to contact the Revenue with queries they may have about their return. HMRC has now acknowledged that this could mean they decide to file their return late.

The exchequer secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said he was pleased that HMRC has acted with common sense over the potential affects of the strike action. The government does not want people to be penalised unfairly simply because they could not get the help and advice they needed from one of its departments.

The acting director general of personal tax at HMRC, Stephen Banyard, said the Revenue has always made it clear that it wants returns not penalties and the Revenue does not want people to be disadvantaged by the strike action.

HMRC has made it clear that the deadline still remains as the 31st January, but people who are unable to speak to a call centre operative will have a “reasonable excuse” for late filing and their fine will be reversed.

So far HMRC has received around six million self-assessment returns online, but that leaves as many as 1.5 million people who have still to file.

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