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HMRC sets out its position on charging penalties

Its official, HMRC does not want to charge penalties!

HMRC have made the following announcement on their approach to the £100 late filing penalty for people sending in tax returns late:

“We want to focus more and more of our resources on investigating major tax avoidance and evasion rather than penalising ordinary people who are trying to do the right thing.

But it’s important to make clear that the deadline for appealing fines for 2013/14 tax year has now passed. Those who have already appealed will only be let off the fine if they’ve now sent in their return, paid the tax due, appealed and have a good reason for sending it in late.

This is part of our planned, proportionate approach to penalty appeals, particularly for small businesses and individuals.

The bottom line is that we don’t want to charge penalties, we just want the tax return and the tax in on time.

In addition, the more complete picture that digital technology gives us means, in the longer term, we want to move away from sending out penalty notices as a mechanical reaction to a single missed deadline. We will be able to track patterns of behaviour so we only focus on those who persistently fail to pay or send their tax returns on time.”

It will be interesting to see if HMRC’s consultation on this topic results in a change in the law.

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