The automatic penalties attaching to late filing of tax returns have long been an unpopular issue for taxpayers. The system involves fixed penalties for missing deadlines and these are rigorously applied. Filing a tax return online just seconds after the deadline of 31 January will bring an automatic £100 penalty.
The harshness of the regime has caused the Government to announce a rethink of its operation.
Especially in point is the requirement for quarterly filing for businesses and some individuals under the 'making tax digital' proposals, which are due to be implemented in April 2019. In the November Budget, the Government proposed a new 'points-based' system for tax penalties that will take account of the taxpayer's compliance history in setting the penalties.
Under the system, a single compliance failure will be treated less harshly, but repeated failures will lead to an ascending tariff of penalties.
The proposals will be subject to a consultation exercise before being implemented.