HMRC Tax Return Deadline – ExtensionSaturday, January 28th, 2012
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union advises that some HMRC staff are likely to stage a series of ‘short strikes’ on 31 January this year. This is to object to the use of two private companies, Sitel and Teleperformance, who have been engaged to handle trials in HMRC tax credit contact centres. These year-long trials are in Lillyhall, in Cumbria, and Bathgate, in Scotlandand are due to start in February 2012. PCS allege that this suggests a ‘paving the way for privatisation’, at a time when thousands of HMRC jobs are already being lost.
With up to 600,000 SA tax returns expected to be filed on the 31st, and up to 15% of filers calling HMRC with some sort of query on that day, there may be some disruption. This may cause some filers to miss the deadline. Normally, as detailed in the article ‘HMRC Self-Assessment Tax Return Reminder’, late filing will immediately incur a penalty, as per the Finance Act 2009 penalty regime. However, this regime will not apply if HMRC accept that there is a ‘reasonable excuse’ – see the below link for HMRC’s examples of what they consider reasonable and unacceptable excuses.
The BBC Website advised that HMRC provided an assurance that anyone affected by the proposed industrial action will be able to make a ‘reasonable excuse’ claim. A Press Release from HMRC later the same day confirmed that, whilst the deadline remained 31 January, a two-day extension has been granted and that all returns submitted up until Midnight on 02 February will be treated as if they had been submitted on 31 January. No interest will be charged on tax paid on 01 or 02 February. Stephen Banyard, Acting Director General Personal Tax is quoted:
‘We’ve always been very clear that we want the returns – not the penalties. For that reason, we don’t want anyone who can’t get through for help and advice on 31 January to be disadvantaged in any way’
In turn, the event of industrial action at the tax office has been added to the ‘reasonable excuses’ list.