Pearson May Financial Update: Don’t bury your head in the sand over your tax return

January 13, 2017

Most people are aware that January 31 is the online filing deadline in respect of tax returns for the year ended April 5, 2016. But the penalties for not dealing with your affairs on a timely basis can be significant and can quickly turn into a serious issue the longer that matters are left, warns Pearson May partner Nick Oliver.

In most cases, if you don’t file your tax return before January 31, there will be an automatic penalty of £100 that you will have to pay even if there is no tax payable.

But that is only the start. HMRC will charge interest on any late-paid tax and it’s also worth noting that any tax in respect of the year ended April 5, 2016 which remains unpaid at February 28, 2017 will incur a further 5% surcharge penalty.

Furthermore, if your tax return is due to be submitted by January 31, 2017, and is still not submitted by April 30, 2017, then even more significant penalties are levied at the rate of £10 per day (up to a maximum of £900). There are then further penalties levied if the return is more than six months late and 12 months late (a minimum of an additional £300 each).

To put it in perspective, if your tax return is submitted more than 12 months late then, even if there is no tax due, you can be fined up to £1,600. This figure can be much higher if there is significant tax due.

As many people are filing their tax returns around this time of year, fraudsters can try to take advantage of this by attempting to contact taxpayers asking them to disclose personal information about their tax affairs or bank details etc.

One of the most common such scams in the past few years takes the form of a bogus email purporting to have been sent from HMRC informing taxpayers that they are entitled to a tax repayment. These types of email often ask taxpayers to then click on a link in the email or to provide their bank details so that the repayment can be made.

HMRC will never contact taxpayers by email about such refunds so be very cautious about any email correspondence you receive which appears to have been sent by HMRC. 

If you are unsure about the content of any emails then it is safer to not click on any links in the email, open any attachments or reply with any confidential information.

A worrying new development are phone calls purporting to be from HMRC. One scam we’ve heard about recently is an automated message that starts: “This is Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. We have been trying to reach you to let you know that we are filing a law suit against you”.

The message is then said to provide a list of options, such as “To speak to your case officer, press one”.  This happened to one of our clients recently and I’m pleased to report that instead of pressing one, she phoned us instead. We could reassure her that her tax affairs were in order, there was no such lawsuit and the call was a scam.

HMRC asks that taxpayers who receive any suspicious emails forward them to HMRC at or send any suspicious text messages to 60599. 

There is further information available online at




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