Late tax returns
The SA filing deadline of 31 January 2020 falls on a Friday, but that doesn’t mean you have until Monday 3 February to get the tax returns in. The HMRC computer will log every return received after midnight on 31 January as late.
But what happens if the computer gets it wrong and loses a tax return? HMRC will argue that can’t happen, but it does, as illustrated by the case of Andreas Georgiou.
He appointed Mr Ridler as his tax agent, who submitted Georgiou’s 2016/17 tax return online at 9am on 5 September 2017. Ridler recorded the submission number that indicated the return had been submitted.
In February 2018 HMRC issued the first late filing penalty of £100, Ridler appealed but the appeal was rejected. The penalties kept coming, and in July 2018 Ridler called HMRC to have the collection of the penalties suspended. He understood that HMRC had agreed to do this, and he confirmed that agreement in writing. However, on 31 July 2018 HMRC issued a notice for further daily penalties of £900.
There seemed to be no way to stop the HMRC penalty machine other than to submit the 2016/17 tax return again, so he submitted a paper copy on 31 August. Ridler explained that he couldn’t submit the same SA return online as government gateway will not accept duplicate online returns. The penalties were appealed again in November 2018 and once again the appeal was rejected.
The FTT accepted that Georgiou and Ridler genuinely believed that the SA return had been submitted on time and removed the penalties.
Ridler set a good example of how to handle the case of missing tax return. He accurately recorded every contact with HMRC, and appealed the penalty notices promptly. His record of the online submission number was crucial evidence.
However, he could have taken the extra step of asking Georgiou to check his online personal tax account (PTA). The fact that the taxpayer had not logged into his PTA was held up by HMRC as evidence that he had not submitted his tax return.
Written by the Tax Advice Network