LITRG urges contractors to take steps to avoid self-assessment penalties

(2 minutes to read)

It’s that time of year again when the self-assessment deadline date is looming, and so the LITRG are urging people with outstanding tax liabilities to take steps sooner rather than later to avoid penalties for late payment.

With self-assessment tax return payments due on 31st January, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is concerned that there will be many people at risk of not being able to make their payments.

LITRG makes the point that for the first time this year some pensioners may receive Simple Assessments that will demand the tax due on their state pension by 31 January 2018, or three months after the issue for the Simple Assessment if that gives a later due date.

There are also concerns that some people on low incomes may resort to taking loans at rates disproportionately high in comparison to their income because of the ending of credit card payments – pushing them into greater personal debt.

HMRC have made recent changes to the way taxpayers can pay their tax bills. Historically, taxpayers have been able to pay tax liabilities in a variety of different ways, but HMRC no longer accept payment through the Post Office, and will soon stop accepting personal credit cards.

LITRG is concerned that the end of Post Office tax payments may lead some people to struggle to find a way to pay tax by the due date.

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Anne Fairpo, Chair of LITRG, commented, “It is important that taxpayers pay their tax on time in order to avoid late payment penalties and being pursued by HMRC for the debt outstanding. Two recent changes mean that making payments may not be straightforward for some taxpayers and we are keen to see that these changes are publicised as widely as possible”.

“If making the tax payment will cause hardship, we strongly recommend people contact HMRC as soon as possible, and certainly before the due date of payment, to discuss their case. HMRC have powers to spread the payment of tax bills where payment would cause hardship. When presenting their case, people should make sure HMRC are aware of any special circumstances that may be relevant, for example illness or an unexpected fall in income”.

She added, “Since 15 December 2017 it has not been possible to pay a tax bill at the Post Office. For people with no local bank branch and who are unwilling or unable to use internet banking or telephone banking, making a payment by post may be the only solution. If someone does not have a payslip to make the payment by post, they should telephone HMRC to request a payslip as soon as possible so that their payment may be allocated correctly”.

“From 13 January 2018 it will no longer be possible to pay HMRC from a personal credit card. This means taxpayers may have to find alternative sources of funds to make their payment. While credit card charges might be expensive, they are considerably more affordable than some loans”.

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