"HMRC have relented a little on their stance wrt late submissions (ie non submissions) of self-assessment forms for tax years 2010 and earlier, and have launched the "Tax Return Initiative".
The Telegraph reports that people who have not completed self-assessment forms will be given three months to declare untaxed income earned before 2010. Those who fess up will be given reduced penalties of £200, plus a fine equivalent to 10% of the unpaid tax.
This is a significant mollification of HMRC's normal stance on late/non submissions. Fines are normally up to 100% of unpaid tax, and spot fines can be more than £1,000.
Taxpayers (not "customers") who do not make use of the amnesty to fess up will face aggressive criminal prosecutions."
The deadline for the initiative (2nd October) is now less than a month away, and today HMRC have issued a press release reminding people to come forward before it is too late.
After 2 October, if taxpayers have not submitted their tax returns and paid what they owe, HMRC will use its legal powers to pursue outstanding returns and any unpaid tax and NICs. Penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax due, or even criminal investigation, could follow.
Here is the HMRC press release in full, you will notice HMRC uses both the "C" word and the correct form of address (ie "taxpayer") in the same document:
"Thousands of higher rate taxpayers who have failed to submit tax returns will receive letters from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) this month, reminding them that they have only one month left to take up a special opportunity being offered by the tax authority.
The Tax Return Initiative is aimed at people liable to pay tax at rates of 40 per cent and above and who have been told to submit a Self Assessment tax return for 2009/10 or earlier, but have not done so. The campaign is also available to anyone who has tax returns to submit for these years.
People have until 2 October to tell HMRC they want to take part, submit completed returns, and pay the tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) that they owe. By coming forward voluntarily through the campaign, launched on 3 July, people will receive better terms, and any penalty they pay will be lower than if HMRC comes to them first.
After 2 October, if they have not submitted their tax returns and paid what they owe, HMRC will use its legal powers to pursue outstanding returns and any unpaid tax and NICs. Penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax due, or even criminal investigation, could follow.
Marian Wilson, head of HMRC Campaigns, said:
“If HMRC has sent you a Self Assessment tax return or notice to complete a tax return for 2009/10 or earlier and you have not yet taken any action, this campaign offers you a quick and straightforward way to bring your tax affairs up to date. But time is running out. You have until 2 October to submit your tax returns and pay the tax you owe.
“If you cannot afford to pay what you owe all at once, don’t worry. If your circumstances warrant it, you will be able to spread the payments.”
People can take part in the campaign by:
- Going online and registering: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/campaigns/tri.htm
Help is available from HMRC by calling the Tax Return Initiative helpline on 0845 601 8818.
- Completing any outstanding tax returns and paying any tax and NICs owed by 2 October.
By coming forward voluntarily through the campaign, customers will receive better terms, and any penalty they pay will be lower than if HMRC comes to them first.
HMRC campaigns have so far have collected nearly £510 million from people coming forward, and more than £120 million from HMRC follow-ups, including over 18,000 completed investigations. There are also 23 criminal cases under way. Two plumbers have been jailed and another received a suspended sentence.
Notes for editors
1. The Tax Return Initiative helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm.
2. Anyone who has tax returns to submit for 2009/10 or earlier, and has not done so, should come forward and make their returns, whether or not they have received a reminder letter about the campaign from HMRC.
3. Previous campaigns have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals, private tutors and coaches, plumbers, electricians, VAT defaulters and online traders. Further information on HMRC campaigns: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/campaigns/news.htm"
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