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Late tax return penalties

Every year almost 1 million people miss the tax filing deadline and have to pay tax return penalties.

There are three different kinds of tax return penalties:

Penalties for late filing

Total fines for filing a year late start at £1,600 but can technically be unlimited – it all depends on how large your original tax bill was:

How late you areFine (each gets added to the others!)
between 1 day and 3 months£100 flat fine
between 3 months and 6 months£10 each day
between 6 months and 12 months£300 flat or 5% of your tax bill (whichever is greater)
over 12 months£300 flat or 5% of your tax bill (whichever is greater)

Penalties for late payment

If you owe a tax bill and miss the payment deadline you will have to pay additional fines:

How late you areLate payment penalty
between 1 day and 30 days0
between 30 days and 6 months5% of your tax bill
between 6 months and 12 monthsanother 5%
over 12 monthsand another 5%

Interest for paying late

This is calculated yearly, and it is (how else) added to your other penalties as well:

Period in which you were lateAnnual interest rate
Since 21 August 20183.25%
21 November 2017 – 20 August 20183%
23 August 2016 – 20 November 20172.75%
29 September 2009 – 22 August 20163%
before 29 September 2009see the full list here

What you can do to reduce your tax return penalties

  1. file it as quickly as possible to stop the fines from adding up
  2. if you have a reasonable excuse (a serious illness, etc.), then appeal the penalty – here’s how to do it
  3. if you can’t afford paying it, file for an extension with HMRC.

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