Dealing with deadlines is a key part of the Self Assessment system – and 2017/18 was a record breaker in terms of people getting it right. A massive 93.68% of Self Assessment tax returns for the year were turned in on time – even if over 700,000 of those were last-minute.

There are over 11.5 million people filing tax returns through Self Assessment each year. Of those, the vast majority get it done in good time. For the 2017/18 tax year, that majority hit 10 million people for the first time ever – and HMRC’s over the moon about it!

It’s not all good news, of course – we’re talking about tax here, after all. In total, 731,186 people missed the deadline on the 31st of January. That’s £73,118,600 in automatic penalties going out right now – even for people with no actual tax to pay. Things will only go downhill for those people as time drags on, too. After 3 months without filing, they’ll start racking up fines of £10 per day, up to £900 total. Another 3 months on, they’ll earn themselves another penalty of 5% of the tax they owe – or £300 if that’s more. Another 6 months down the line, that same penalty gets applied again. Late payment of what they owe also lands them 5% penalties to cough up at the 30-day, 6-month and 12-month marks.

Of course, some of the 700,000 or so people now choking on those penalties could have perfectly valid reasons why they couldn’t hit the deadline. For them, now’s the time to make some noise. If you’ve been facing an honest, unavoidable problem that stopped you from filing your Self Assessment return, you might be able to get the fines cancelled. Don’t count on it, though – and don’t assume HMRC’s going to be lenient without good reason. If you come at them with a weak excuse for missing the deadline, they might not stop at loading you down with penalties. They might well decide to make fun of you on the internet as well!

Back in January, HMRC released a list of the weakest reasons offered for missing the Self Assessment deadline. Unlucky winners of this honour included:

  • The taxpayer who was cursed by a witch (who was also their mother-in-law).
  • The one who had problems with THREE of their maids and just couldn’t spare the time.
  • The person whose fingers were too cold to type.
  • The one who was too short to reach the post box.

Needless to say, none of these sad cases resulted in a cancelled fine.

So, if you’re among the Self Assessment taxpayers currently looking at a £100 penalty, try talking to RIFT. There’s a good chance we could limit the damage, and keep you protected in the future. We’re also the UK’s leading experts at getting the very best from your tax returns. Remember: when it comes to dealing with Self Assessment tax returns, you’re better off with RIFT.