According to a report today by AccountancyAge, late self-assessment filers have seen their £100 fines waived by HMRC should they offer a “reasonable” excuse for doing so.
As many as 890,000 people are estimated to have potentially benefited from the reprieve for missing the 31 January deadline as HMRC faces a backlog of almost a million letters from taxpayers.
With a list of reasonable excuses on its website, HMRC said it was focusing its resources on tackling major tax avoidance rather than “penalising people for trying to do the right thing”.
A spokeman for HMRC added that despite the policy, no one will be let off the fine unless they’ve now sent in their return and “have a good reason for sending it in late”.
“This is part of our planned approach to penalty appeals, particularly for small businesses and individuals who have sent their tax return in late,” he said.