Self Assessment Tax Penalties

Self-employed people in the UK always have to complete a tax return. If you have been self-employed for more than three months (after which time you are expected to have registered as self employed with your tax office) you will be expected to have found out exactly what measures you need to take in order to pay your tax. Also, you may have to complete a tax return for a number of other reasons. If you receive income from a source other than your regular employment, or if you have lived abroad at all, you may be expected to fill in a tax return. Also, ministers (of any faith) and names/members of Lloyd’s are expected to complete a return. In fact, the long and the short of it is that everyone needs to double check the complexity of their tax situation, to make sure they are paying the right tax – or else run the risk of facing self assessment tax penalties.

Indeed, if a tax return is filed late there is currently an automatic £100 fee to be paid. A late tax return is excusable for only a few reasons, and is taken very seriously by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. On their website they have a detailed list of reasonable excuses (for which they may waive the self assessment tax penalties).

Among the extenuating circumstances are:

  • Documents being irretrievably lost through theft, fire, or flood;
  • Life-threatening illnesses;
  • Postal strikes;
  • The death of a business partner – although you may need to prove that you intended to get your tax return in on time before this happened;
  • Problems with the HMRC online filing service (if you can prove that you had no other option but to file online).

Obviously, if you have not paid enough tax you will be expected to pay the appropriate charges associated with your miscalculation as well!

All of the information you need, to ensure that you are not penalised for completing your tax return late or incorrectly (or even not at all) is easily found through HMRC. A good place to start is their official website, which can be found at (this is a link to one of the pages on their site that deals specifically with the penalties you may face if you do not declare your income in the proper way).

Good luck in managing your tax this financial year, and remember to check with HMRC regularly (at least once a year, before you fill in your tax return) to make sure you are aware of any recent changes to the law. The key to avoiding self assessment tax penalties is to stay informed.

Any more questions? Send us a message, we are happy to help. Alternatively, why not apply for some expert help with your tax return?

apply for a tax rebate

Disclaimer: The above information can not be taken as advice and is for illustration purposes only. Please call Tax Fix before making any claims or confirmation. Tax Fix can not accept any liability for action taken and any losses incurred.


  1. R Chandler says:

    I filled in my 2007/2008 self assessment myself for the first time but made some mistakes. After an enquiry the tax man wanted to charge me 20% fine. I negotiated and said 10% was more realistic which he has not acepted, but believe he would probably acept 15%. However it appears that the new tax penalties did not come in until 2009. Can I argue that the new higher penalties should not apply.

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