Tax: HMRC determinations of tax liability
If you were supposed to submit tax returns to HMRC but have not done so, they may have sent you a ‘determination’ of the tax they think you owe.
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What a determination is
Where HMRC have asked you to complete tax returns but you have not done so, HMRC might take steps to recover from you the tax they think you owe.
They will use what they do know about you – perhaps from previous tax returns, or from other data they have received from third parties – to calculate an estimate of how much tax they think you should pay for the relevant tax year(s).
HMRC will then issue this to you as a formal ‘determination’ of your liability and you will then either have to pay this or take action, as we explain below.
HMRC cannot send you a determination after the third anniversary of the date the return was originally due to be filed.
For example, for a 2019/20 tax return HMRC’s ‘final date’ for issuing a determination would usually be three years from 31 January 2021, which is 31 January 2024.
If HMRC issue a determination
Note that even though a determination is an estimated amount, it is a legally enforceable debt, unless you submit the outstanding return within:
- 12 months of receiving the determination, or
- three years from the filing date of the outstanding return to which the determination relates (if later).
You should therefore submit the outstanding return as soon as possible after receiving the determination. The amount owed on that return will then replace the amount of the determination.
If you miss the deadline for submitting the return
If you miss the deadline for submitting your return after receiving the determination, then the determination stands unless HMRC agree a claim you might make for ‘special relief’. For more on this claim, see the detailed information provided by the tax charity, TaxAid.