The deadline for filing your 2016/17 self-assessment tax return was 31st October 2017 for paper returns and 31st January 2018 for returns submitted online.

If HM Revenue & Customs asked you to complete a tax return for 2016/17 and you failed to file by the deadline, you will face an automatic, initial penalty of £100. If you still haven’t filed it after three months, the penalties will start escalating dramatically.

Your tax return is overdue, what should you do?
To get your tax affairs in order, you need to either:

• File your return as soon as possible
The longer the delay, they higher the penalties, so it makes sense to file your tax return online as the deadline for that method will be the most recent. Get in touch with a local accountant, who will be happy to prepare your tax return for you.

• Contact HMRC immediately
If you think you are not required to submit a tax return, telephone HMRC on 0300 200 3310 and request the tax return to be withdrawn. If HMRC agrees, you no do not need to file a return and any penalties issued for missing the deadline should be cancelled.

Remember to note who you spoke to and when, and what the outcome is expected and when you will receive their decision.

HMRC is unlikely to withdraw a return if you have been self-employed at any point during the tax year. Even a very short period of self employment will count. Typically, you will only have two years from the end of the tax year for which the return is due to request its withdrawal.

Reasonable excuses
So, what other avenues do you have if you have missed the 31st January deadline for filing your tax return? Well, if you do have a good reason for the delay, you may be able to appeal against the penalty.

HMRC list several common examples of Reasonable Excuses on its website.
These include:
• The death of your partner or a close relative shortly prior to the tax return or payment deadline
• You had an unexpected stay in hospital that stopped you from looking after your tax affairs
• You had a serious or life-threatening illness
• Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return
• Service issues with HMRC online services
• A fire, flood or theft stopped you from completing your tax return
• Postal delays you couldn’t have predicted
• Delays related to any disability you have

What’s unlikely to be reasonable excuse?
The following aren’t usually accepted as a reasonable excuse:
• You relied on someone else to send your return and they didn’t
• You made a mistake on your tax return
• You found the HMRC online system too difficult to use
• You didn’t get a reminder from HMRC

Other, more outlandish excuses that have not been accepted are detailed elsewhere on this page.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article from Hastings Independent Press. The future of this volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.