Late self-assessment returns could incur fines

Mortgage intermediaries and IFAs could be hit by Inland Revenue fines for delayed self-assessment forms.

The warning comes from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, which warns taxpayers that delays could result in fines of up to £60 a day. These fines are in addition to the automatic £100 late-filing penalty for missing the January 31 deadline and can apply even in cases where no money is owed.

Ian Hayes, chairman of the Institute&#39s tax faculty, says: “Since the Inland Revenue brought in the Receivables Management Service last April things have tightened up considerably.

“The IR has set the service strict national performance standards that apply not only to tax collection, but also to ensuring paperwork is received on time. Until now the daily penalty system has hardly ever been enforced. It will now be applied far more rigorously in order to meet the targets set.”

There are believed to be over 70,000 outstanding returns for 1996/1997 alone, and receivables officers will tackle these as a priority. They will then turn their attention to late returns for 2001/2002.

Hayes adds: “Taxpayers must bring their paperwork up-to-date or face the very costly consequences – putting things off could mean fines that add up to thousands of pounds a month.”

Warning letters will be issued when the IR decides to formally action a case for daily penalties. Chartered accountants advise that these be treated very seriously. The letter gives the taxpayer 30 days to file their returns. Failure to do this may result in fines of up to £60 a day for each self-assessment that has not been returned.