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HMRC waives self assessment penalties for a month

Self assessment taxpayers will not be fined for late online returns if they file by 28 February, HMRC has said.

More than 8.9 million taxpayers have already filed their tax return. HMRC is encouraging anyone who has not yet filed their tax return to do so by 31 January, if possible.

But anyone who cannot file their return by the 31 January deadline will not receive a late filing penalty if they file online by 28 February. Taxpayers are still obliged to pay their bill by 31 January. Interest will be charged from 1 February in regard to any outstanding liabilities.

Taxpayers who cannot afford to pay their tax bill on time can apply online to spread their payments, but they will need to file their 2019/20 tax return before setting up a Time to Pay arrangement, so HMRC is encouraging everyone to do this as soon as possible.

Derek Cribb, CEO of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), said: 'We are pleased that HMRC has heeded our calls to show some leniency as 2020 was a financially devastating year for the self-employed.

'While this is a helpful intervention, we believe HMRC could go further to relieve some of the financial stress on the self-employed. In particular, we would urge government to do the decent thing and drop the late payment penalties on tax owed as well, to allow freelancers to pay this back in instalments without the threat of fines.'