What penalties will you pay for filing your Self Assessment tax return late?

So, for whatever reason, you didn’t file your Self Assessment tax return before the midnight 31 January deadline. If it’s the first time it’s happened to you, naturally you’ll be wondering what the penalties are for…

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Last Updated: 13th March 2024

So, for whatever reason, you didn’t file your Self Assessment tax return before the midnight 31 January deadline. If it’s the first time it’s happened to you, naturally you’ll be wondering what the penalties are for those who miss the Self Assessment tax return filing deadline. Act quickly and you can minimise the financial damage. 

Penalties for missing the Self Assessment online-filing deadline

If you’ve missed the Self Assessment tax return filing deadline, there’s an automatic £100 late-filing fixed penalty. It’s payable even if there’s no tax to pay or you pay any tax that’s due. Then, after…

  • Three months: you’ll have to pay a further penalty of £10 per day for up to 90 days (ie up to a maximum fine of £900).
  • Six months: you’ll have to pay a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whatever is higher. This is in addition to the late-filing penalty and other costs detailed above.
  • 12 months: you’ll have to pay another 5% or £300, whatever is higher, in addition to all previous penalties.

Appealing a Self Assessment late-filing penalty

If you have a valid excuse for not filing your Self Assessment tax return before the deadline, you can appeal. Try to do this within 30 days of your penalty notice being issued, although, in special circumstances, HMRC will consider later appeals.

HMRC recommends that you pay the penalty even if you appeal, because if your appeal is rejected, you’ll have to pay interest on the penalty from the date it was due. If HMRC agrees with your appeal, it will repay you the money you’ve paid, plus interest (providing all of your tax payments are up to date).

Reasonable grounds for appealing a late-filing penalty

There are many reasons that HMRC will accept as justifiable for late-filing your Self Assessment tax return, including:

  • your partner or close relative died shortly before the tax return deadline
  • you had a serious or life-threatening illness
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from filing your Self Assessment tax return
  • your computer or software failed while you were preparing your online return
  • there were serious service issues with HMRC’s online services
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • delays as a result of your disability or mental illness
  • you appointed someone else (eg an accountant) to file your Self Assessment return and they failed to do so before the deadline.

You must file your Self Assessment tax return as soon as possible, whether while you are waiting for an HMRC response to your appeal or after it has been accepted.

Need to know! Many excuses for late-filing will not be accepted as a reasonable excuse. Examples include: you found the HMRC online system too difficult to use; you did not get a reminder from HMRC; you made a mistake on your tax return.

GoSimpleTax is award-winning software that makes it quick and easy to complete and file your Self Assessment tax return and supplementary pages. It can also prevent you from making basic tax return errors that can later cost you time and money. Thousands of sole traders, landlords and other taxpayers love GoSimpleTax. Find out why, by starting your FREE trial today!

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Blog content is for information purposes and over time may become outdated, although we do strive to keep it current. It's written to help you understand your Tax's and is not to be relied upon as professional accounting, tax and legal advice due to differences in everyone's circumstances. For additional help please contact our support team or HMRC.

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