Afghanistan based soldiers exempt from late filing penalties

We’ve heard a lot recently about the new penalty regime HMRC intends to implement for people who filed their income tax self-assessment forms after the new deadline of February 2nd.

However, accountants may be interested to learn that the Revenue might take a more lenient stance with members of the British armed forces if they are in active service.

I’m sure everyone will agree that soldiers based in Afghanistan have much more important things to think about than filling in a tax return. Although they will still be subject to the same penalties as everybody else, these can be cancelled if they contact the Revenue citing ‘Reasonable Excuse’.

A spokesperson for HMRC said the Revenue appreciates that service personnel on active duty in Afghanistan have higher priorities. Their position is reasonably unique in that they are in combat and we recognise that comes first.

The system will automatically generate a penalty notice if a return has not been received by the deadline, but if the soldier contacts the Revenue as soon as possible afterwards and explains they were on duty in Afghanistan, the penalty notice would be cancelled immediately.

HMRC also confirmed that although the deadline to appeal a penalty notice is usually 30 days, common sense will prevail and the deadline will be waived for anybody serving in Afghanistan.

It comes as a relief to know that HMRC actually does have a heart, sometimes!

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