Your 2020 Tax Return and coronavirus

If you are late with your 2020 Tax Return due to coronavirus HMRC will waive the fine – but you will still be fined for late payment.

Your 2020 Tax Return may be delayed due to coronavirus – but HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have confirmed they will waive the fine this year.

If you need to file an annual self-assessment 2020 tax return but are late because of coronavirus-related reasons, HMRC has said there will be no fee.

However, penalties for paying your tax late will still apply. 

The official deadline for completing a 2019/20 self-assessment tax return online is 11.59pm on Sunday 31 January.

Normally if you file even one day late you would usually have to pay a fine.

2020 tax return and coronavirus - a typewriter with a tax return document

2020 Tax Return and Coronavirus: a “reasonable excuse”

But this year HMRC says it will accept disruption caused by the pandemic as a “reasonable excuse” for being unable to file on time, and it’ll cancel penalties as long as you file as soon as possible after that. 

That said, it is not clear exactly counts as a valid coronavirus-related reason…

The Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert page could not get any specifics from HMRC. The taxman said only that they’ll look at each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Our advice is, if you can, file on time to be safe. If you’re struggling due to coronavirus but are unsure if you have a valid excuse, contact HMRC directly to check.

If you need help filing your return, contact us and we can help.

Penalties that apply to your Tax Return

The bottom line is that whether or not you file late due to coronavirus you are likely to still have to pay a fine if you are late paying the tax owed.

You will have 30 days after the 31 January deadline to make your payment.

HMRC says late payment penalties will operate as normal as things stand, so fines won’t be waived as a matter of course if you’ve been unable to pay due to coronavirus. You can still appeal fines if you believe you have a “reasonable excuse” for not paying on time. 

Penalties for late payment are that you’ll be charged 5% of the unpaid tax after 30 days, plus 5% after six months and again after 12 months. So if you miss the 31 January deadline, sort it as soon as you possibly can and you may still be able to avoid a fine. 

And if you can both file a return AND pay your tax by 31 January, it’s best to do so.

In addition, you need to pay any remaining tax owed from the 2019/20 tax year (known as a balancing payment) – again, unless you’ve agreed a repayment plan – as well as make your first payment on account for the 2020/21 tax year.

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