People who file their tax returns late won’t face a fine this year, as long as they can show that the delay was due to coronavirus.
The move means pressures of home schooling could be deemed a valid reason for delay, while people who can show that either they or their accountant have recently been ill with the virus are also likely to be shown clemency.
HMRC said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file on time even if they can’t pay their tax straight away. But where a customer is unable to do so because of the impact of Covid-19 we will accept they have a reasonable excuse and cancel penalties, provided they manage to file as soon as possible after that.”
About 12 million people file their own tax return because they are self-employed, a landlord or have a second form of income. HMRC said slightly more than half had already filed a return by 4 January, meaning millions could benefit from an extension.
“Covid-19 and the associated effects such as having to home-school children are circumstances that the self-employed population of the UK cannot control and are therefore causing these individuals extreme anxiety,” he said.