£90m Fines and Record Use for Tax Self-Assessment

£90m Fines and Record Use for Tax Self-AssessmentAs football’s transfer window "slammed shut" last night so too did the window for Britain’s self-employed to file their tax returns.

The HM Revenue & Customs‘ online self-assessment service saw a record number of submissions this year as entrepreneurs and self-employed workers filed their tax returns before the midnight deadline on the 31st January.

Last year the HMRC had a total of 6.42 million tax returns submitted and by midday on Monday 31st January 2011, a clear 12 hours before "close of play", they had already received 6.45 million submissions, some 30,000 greater than the previous year; and that was with an estimated 300,000 additional returns expected later in the day.

By this morning the official figure was 6.9 million people, or 6,907,410 to be precise: 7% up on last year’s figure.

HMRC do, however, expect that as many as 10% of the tax self-assessment returns will be filed late and hence subject to a £100 fixed penalty fine. Many of these may be due to last minute users not having complete details. Those that have lost or expired activation codes would have had to wait 5-7 days for details to be sent through the post. Lost usernames and passwords were still recoverable through the online system, albeit with a 2 hour "lock out" for those who failed to enter details correctly 3 times in a row. (They also didn’t inform users that they had been locked out, for "security reasons")

The 10% of late filers this year will not be due to any system failures, as in previous years, and the online self-assessment system help line was open until 10pm last night. Whilst some callers complained of being on hold too long, and others even said they’d been cut off, the system otherwise seemed to work smoothly.

Of the self-assessment tax payers, some of whom submitted their old paper style returns before the 31st October 2010, the 10% expected to be issued with fixed £100 penalties are likely to amount to around 900,000 people – that’s a whopping potential £90,000,000 for the HMRC.

And if you were one of yesterday’s last minute Online SA users, here are some figures of people who filed their tax returns in the holidays:

  • 845 filed returns on Christmas Day
  • 2408 SA returns were filed on Boxing Day
  • 16230 returns were completed online on New Year’s Eve and
  • 5130 filed returns on New Year’s Day

Whilst many people celebrated the new year, 96 people were filing their tax returns between 11pm and midnight on the 31st December 2010!

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