HMRC strike leads to extended filing deadline
LITRG understands that the strike action planned by some HMRC staff on 31 January is to focus particularly on their telephone contact centres. As a result, HMRC say they recognise that some Self Assessment online customers who need to talk to them on 31 January may not be able to get through on the phone.
By the morning of 26 January 2012, over 74% of returns had already been submitted but for the remaining 26% of people still to file, being unable to contact HMRC for help could well turn out to be a major concern. As a consequence, HMRC have decided online Self Assessment filers will not face penalties provided they file in the first two days of February 2012.
This means that HMRC will treat all online Self Assessment returns that are submitted by midnight on 2 February 2012 as though they were filed instead by the 31 January 2012 deadline. Furthermore, no-one will have to pay interest on payments due on 31 January if they pay on 1 or 2 February 2012.
This should allow more time for someone who has questions or queries about their return to speak to an adviser before submitting it. The basic idea is to avoid a person who still needs to file their return being charged with a penalty for an event beyond his or her control.
The same principle will apply where a tax credits claimant who renewed their claim in 2011, but only gave estimated income for 2010/11, telephones the helpline on 1 or 2 February to report their final income for that year.
HMRC hope that this action will help allay some worries and additionally provide sufficient time to contact an adviser after the strike day should the need arise. They have stressed that they do not want anyone who cannot reach them by phone on 31 January to be disadvantaged in any way and that they will endeavour to treat people reasonably and sympathetically.
Contact: Robin Williamson (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/ContactUs)