Has the 31 January penalty deadline for taxes been extended?

27 Jan 2021

The “immense pressure” the coronavirus pandemic has put many individuals under has prompted HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to provide self-assessment taxpayers with an extra month to file their online tax returns without receiving a penalty.

Woman filing tax return

Can I file my taxes after the deadline?

HMRC has confirmed that those who are unable to submit their tax forms by 31 January won’t be fined £100 – as long as they do it by 28 February.

The move will provide some respite for the 3 million people who are yet to file their 2019-20 tax return due to difficulties caused by the pandemic. 

HMRC said it recognised “the immense pressure” many individuals were facing as a result of the pandemic, adding: “It has become increasingly clear that some people will not be able to file their return by 31 January.”

When is the deadline for my tax return?

People are still being urged to file their tax return by 31 January if they can.

HMRC has made it clear that taxpayers are still obliged to pay any tax they owe by the 31 January deadline and that interest will be added to outstanding balances from 1 February. 

“Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give [people] the breathing space they need to complete and file their returns, without worrying about receiving a penalty. We can reasonably assume most of these people will have a valid reason for filing late, caused by the pandemic.” - Jim Harra, HMRC’s chief executive

The last tax year began on 6 April 2019 and closed on 4 April 2020. The deadline for tax return submissions (and monies owed) midnight on 31 January for online tax returns – this was 31 October for paper returns. 

What happens if I miss my tax deadline?

You’ll receive a penalty of £100 for tax returns that are up to three months late and will have to pay more if you pay your tax bill late or file your return after 30 April. Interest is also charged on late payments. 

This year, however, HMRC is not issuing late filing penalties for one month (up to 28 February) to help taxpayers and agents who are struggling to meet the deadline.

Can I pay in instalments?

If you’ve already filed your tax return for 2019/20 and can’t afford to pay the whole amount in one go, you may be able to pay in instalments. You can also make advance payments against your next bill in instalments. 

To do this, you’ll need to set up a payment plan online by logging in with your Government Gateway credentials. You can also call the Payment Support Service

If you want to set up a payment plan to spread the cost of your latest Self Assessment bill, all the following must apply:

  • you owe £30,000 or less

  • you don’t have any other payment plans or debts with HMRC

  • your tax returns are up to date

  • it’s less than 60 days after the payment deadline

When setting up a payment plan, you can decide how much you want to pay immediately and how much you want to pay in instalments each month. Bear in mind that you’ll also have to pay interest on top. 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

If your trade has been impacted by the pandemic, you may be eligible to claim a third grant worth 80% paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits (capped at £7,500 in total). You must make your claim on or before 29 January 2021.


Stuart Lawson

Chief Commercial Officer

Stuart is Chief Commercial Officer at Funding Options where he plays a key role in driving the growth of the business and its relationships with more than 120 partners. A finance industry veteran, he has a strong background in alternative finance, corporate and commercial banking, as well as global transaction banking.

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