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With less than one week to go before the cut-off point for filing your self assessment personal tax return for the tax year 2022 to 2023, only a few days ago HMRC reported in a press release aptly headed Less distraction, more action! that 3.8 million people were leaving it late to do so.

The government’s IT systems in recent years seem to have stepped up to the challenge to enable taxpayers to file their returns online with some relative ease; provided of course you fully understood the questions put to you. Nevertheless every year thousands continue to miss the cut. With reduced telephone support will people be able to resolve their HMRC tax queries in time?

Do not leave it too late to file your tax return as midnight Wednesday 31 January 2024 approaches. Take action now to avoid becoming one of the potentially thousands of taxpayers handed an HMRC brown envelope with a £100 penalty packaged inside. 

Tax Return Filing Don’t Miss The Cut

HMRC Self Assessment Telephone Support

It is not only the government’s tax filing systems that need to be in fine form but also its online information facilities as HMRC continues to encourage people to try its online systems first, rather than picking up the phone and waiting for human intervention to stop the music flowing, with the warm words “Hello, how can I help you”.

Do not leave it too late to phone up either to resolve any last minute queries as HMRC provided notice on 7 December 2023 that it is offering restricted telephone helplines in its news notice Self Assessment helpline to focus on priority queries:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will focus its Self Assessment (SA) helpline on priority calls in the run-up to the filing deadline, with other enquiries pointed to its highly rated online services.    

Customers calling with queries that can be quickly and easily resolved online will be directed to HMRC’s online services from 11 December until the SA deadline on 31 January.  

One might have hoped for a little bit more support perhaps after articles such as that reported on 26 June 2023 in the Guardian HMRC fined 184,000 low earners for not filing return despite no tax owing, and the HMRC Charter statement on fairness. Separately also if the provision of telephone services has taken into account:

We’ll provide services that are designed around what you need to do, and are accessible, easy and quick to use, minimising the cost to you.

It is recognised however that HMRC’s current funding level may well be presenting it with a challenging environment in which to work and provide services to the taxpayer.

Treasury Committee: “Our Concern”

The HMRC telephone service concern has recently been a point picked up by the Chairman of the Treasury Committee who reported on 7 December 2023 on the reduction in service for Self Assessment Helpline following summer disruption:

“The Treasury Committee has repeatedly stressed our concern about the management of the Self Assessment Helpline, particularly when it closed at such short notice over the summer leaving many struggling to access help with tax issues.

“Giving the public less than two working days’ notice of a significant reduction in service, while the deadline for Self Assessment returns looms, is yet another alarming development for an increasingly pressured government service. I have written to the CEO of HMRC in order to get much-needed answers about what this means for taxpayers.”

Of course, not everyone will be sophisticated in the use of or have online resources. How that squares with the reported reduction in the telephone helpline service is perhaps an issue for HMRC to consider further. 

The Treasury Select Committee 7 December 2023 news report also said:

The Chief Executive Officer at HMRC, Jim Harra, has written to the Committee confirming the department will be directing more callers to their online services in order to focus on ‘priority calls’ ahead of the filing deadline on 31 January.

The Chair of the Committee has responded to the letter, asking Mr Harra if this is related to pent up demand caused by the closure of the helpline over the summer. Ms Baldwin has also requested reassurance the online services are easy to find and use, as well as asking why the public is receiving such short notice.

Avoid Missing The Cut

To avoid missing the cut if you are employed with a small amount of interest earned from a bank account (that does pay interest taxed at source) and with otherwise simplified financial affairs, then you may not owe HMRC any tax and have income below the level of the personal allowance. However, you still may need to file an HMRC tax return.

If you find filing an online tax return to be a challenge then TaxAid for example only, might be able to assist if you need help.

You can amend your tax return online during the following 12 months after the tax filing deadline. So the important thing to avoid the dreaded £100 penalty is to get your tax return correctly and properly filed.

Under the current tax regime, you must ensure you file a personal tax return when called upon or as a matter of law you are in any event required to do so.

Oliver Elliot Comment

Oliver Elliot Comment !

It is hoped in the not too distant future that moves to a point system will have a less severe impact on taxpayers suggesting they would not need to consider How To Appeal An HMRC Tax Penalty to contest a £100 penalty when they simply have no tax to pay in the first place.

This appears to be a suggested way forward by the HMRC policy paper Interest harmonisation and penalties for late payment and late submission

A taxpayer becomes liable to a fixed financial penalty of £200 only after they have reached the points threshold.

Hopefully, the tax system will therefore shortly be updated to cure this anomaly but in the meantime take action to file your return now.


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We can explore your situation and consider the best way to help you and your business needs. You can call us 020 3925 3613 or fill in the form below and will get back to you quickly. We Know Insolvency Inside Out.

Author: Elliot Green
Last Updated: May 20, 2024

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Disclaimer: Tax Return Filing: Don’t Miss The Cut

This page is not legal advice and is not to be relied upon as such. This article Tax Return Filing: Don’t Miss The Cut is provided for information purposes only. You should take independent advice on the facts of your case. No liability is accepted for reliance upon this post.

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