Published: 03/02/1998

Inland Revenue

Press Release 6/98 3 January 1998


Eight million taxpayers sent their self assessment tax returns in by
the 31 January deadline, figures published today have confirmed.
This includes an estimated 95 per cent of those who do not employ a
tax adviser.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Dawn Primarolo MP, today
welcomed the huge efforts made by taxpayers, advisers and Inland
Revenue staff.

"I am extremely pleased that eight million taxpayers sent their
returns back on time. This is no mean effort in the first year of a
new tax system.

"Moreover, in this first year of self assessment, I am prepared to be
flexible. Where taxpayers have filed their returns but made an
oversight - such as forgetting to sign their forms or not including
one or two pieces of information - they will have had their forms
returned to them and could face a penalty. I have therefore asked the
Inland Revenue to use their discretion so that, where forms which
were already returned to taxpayers are corrected and sent back to the
Inland Revenue by 11 February, they will be regarded as having met
the deadline. If similar oversights are spotted in the next few weeks
a similar discretion will be exercised.

"Self assessment has been a huge learning experience for all
concerned, and one of the jobs now is to review how things have gone
and see what improvements can be made for the future. The Inland
Revenue will listen to representations and will, in particular, want
to have discussions with interested parties."

Around 810,000 individual taxpayers are estimated to have missed the
deadline and face a penalty later this month. In addition, 70,000
partnerships and 20,000 trusts are in the same position. Not all of
these will, however, have to pay the full penalty of #100. For
example, if the tax outstanding is less than #100, the penalty will
not exceed the tax due. And if people have a genuinely good excuse
for missing the deadline, they can appeal against the penalty. (There
are taxpayers from whom tax returns are still outstanding, but who
did not need to file by 31 January.)

For people who have not yet sent in their returns, the Inland Revenue
is still able to give assistance at its offices, and on the Self
Assessment Helpline 0645 000444.


1. Penalties will be notified towards the end of February. They will
be included in taxpayers' Statement of Accounts to be paid along with
the other amounts shown as payable on the Statement.

2. Information will be included to enable people to appeal if they
believe they have a "reasonable excuse" for their return being late.
Each case will be considered on its own facts. If an excuse is not
considered acceptable, the taxpayer can ask for the appeal to be
heard by independent Commissioners.

3. Examples of what may be accepted by the Inland Revenue as a
reasonable excuse include:

- where the tax return was not received by the taxpayer

- where the tax return was lost in the post or delayed because of:

- fire or flood at the Post Office where the tax return was handled,


- prolonged industrial action within the Post Office

- an unforeseen event which disrupted the postal services

- where a taxpayer or tax adviser lost their tax records as a result
of a fire, flood or theft

- serious illness

- death of a spouse, domestic partner or close relative.

4. Examples of what we would not agree as a reasonable excuse

- tax return too difficult

- pressure of work

- failure by tax agent

- lack of Information

- absence of reminders from the Inland Revenue.


The Inland Revenue booklet SA/BK6 contains examples of what the
Inland Revenue will regard as a "reasonable excuse". It can be
obtained free of charge from any Tax Enquiry Centre or tax office.

# = pounds sterling

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