Filing a tax return late is expensive – as the 745,000 taxpayers who missed the self-assessment deadline at midnight on January 31 are about to find out.
HM Revenue & Customs has confirmed more than 10.7 million filed on time – a record high.
But 30,000 of them crept in by the skin of their teeth, filing online between 11 pm and midnight.
More than 758,000 left completing their tax filing to the final day.
Although the number of late-filers is high, the figure is down on the 840,000 taxpayers who missed the deadline last year.
Windfall for Treasury
The Treasury is expecting a windfall as all but a handful of the late-filers will pay an automatic £100 penalty regardless of if they owe any tax. If they do, they will also pay interest on the amount of tax outstanding.
That adds up to extra revenue of £7.5 million for government coffers.
Angela MacDonald, the agency’s director general for customer services, said: ““It’s fantastic to see that each year, more and more self-assessment customers are getting ahead of the game and submitting their tax return before the 31 January deadline.
“We’re not complacent, we want the number missing the deadline to be zero, and we’ll continue to adapt the process to make it easier and simpler for all our customers until every return is in on time and without avoidable errors.
“If you’re one of the small number that missed the deadline, please submit your return now to avoid further penalties. We really don’t want penalties, we just want tax returns.”
HMRC explained that not everyone who missed the deadline will end up with a fine – providing they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so. Acceptable excuses include close family bereavement or illness.
HMRC revealed some taxpayers make bizarre excuses for late returns, including unable to get the forms from upstairs due to vertigo or a bad back; ex-wives failing to hand over mail and grief at the death of a pet goldfish.
The automatic penalty starts at £100, but after a month ramps up to £10 a day for a maximum of 90 days. After six or 12 months, extra penalties are imposed that can increase the bill by up to £600.