Given the Government’s introduction of lockdown throughout England, and the similar restrictions which apply in the other home nations, there should be an extension to the 2019/20 tax return filing deadline which is due by 31 January.
With the various lockdowns that people have experienced since March 2020, many are struggling to get together the data that they need – often from third parties. However, as things presently stand, if they are not able to finalise their tax returns by 31 January, they would be subject to automatic late filing penalties – even if there is no tax due.
The Government should look at extending the deadline by at least four weeks – and potentially six or eight weeks. This will provide additional time for taxpayers to gather the data they need to file the tax return correctly, but also provides the following advantages.
Extending the tax return filing deadline in this way will provide HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) with more opportunity to actually issue tax return ID Numbers (Unique Taxpayer Reference Numbers), which are an essential requirement for tax returns to be filed electronically.
The Government has already shown some flexibility with the Self-Assessment tax system – e.g., re-payments on account and balancing tax liabilities. Given the recent re-introduction of the lockdown, it would be sensible to show flexibility towards the filing deadline too.