Are late filing penalties enforceable?

Advice on late filing tax penalties - Alexander Accountancy in Burton upon Trent

In January 2018, shortly before the filing deadline for self assessment tax returns, a number of stories started circulating that late filing penalties were not legally enforceable. With some sources believing that this has added to the number of tax returns that have been filed late this year. You can find various numbers being quoted, but all of them seem to be in excess of one million.


Please be careful.

These stories are based on a ruling that automatic late filing penalties are not legally enforceable unless they are implemented by a human. However the interpretation has been challenged by HM Revenue & Customs who appear to believe human intervention is only required to consider “reasonable excuse” if there is an appeal. We believe it should be stressed that previous rulings have generally agreed with and supported the HM Revenue & Customs opinion and that it is the latest reports that appear to be out of step.

One popular publication has gone as far as suggesting that automatic late filing penalties may be abolished, but we have not come across any hard evidence to support this.


Please file your returns.

Our advice remains that anyone who receives a notice to submit a tax return should do so. We firmly believe the best time to submit your returns are as early as possible between 6th April and 31st July. If you have overpaid tax owing to you it means this can be reclaimed at the earliest opportunity. If you owe tax but it is less than the previous year it gives you the opportunity to reduce your second payment on account. Or if you owe tax and it is more than the previous year it gives you added time to plan for the balancing payment.

Whilst we can, and do, help people to file their tax returns up to and including the 31st January each year, we would never consider this the best way to do it.


File your late returns NOW!

If you do need to file a self assessment tax return for the year ended 5th April 2017 or any earlier years you may already be liable for the late filing penalties.

Alexander Accountancy has a team of staff to help you and have the capacity to act quickly, at short notice and before the penalties get out of hand. They will increase with time up to £1,600 for each return. We also have extensive experience of successfully appealing against late penalties if there is a reasonable excuse.

Just call us on Burton upon Trent 01283 743851 or email your contact details with a brief description of the help you need to


REMEMBER if you have been asked to submit a tax return, even if you have nothing to declare and no tax to pay, you still need to submit the tax return or advise HM Revenue & Customs you have nothing to report and ask for the notice to submit a return to be cancelled.