90,000 taxpayers fined for tax return errors last year

by | Jan 26, 2024

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Ahead of the January 31 self-assessment deadline, national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young warns individuals to double check their returns, with new data showing HMRC issued over 90,000 penalties for errors in tax returns last year.

Last year HMRC issued 79,081 fines to individuals due to their ‘failure to take reasonable care’ whilst filling in their tax returns. A further 10,229 penalties were issued for ‘deliberate errors’ made on returns.

Penalties issued for “errors with deliberate concealment” – the most severe category of penalty – increased in the last tax year by 23% from 1,025 in 2021-22 to 1,2663 in 2022-23. These penalties are issued against those HMRC believes have intentionally tried to reduce their tax bills by giving inaccurate information on their tax returns.

 
 

Fines for errors on self-assessment returns can range up to 100% of the amount of tax underpaid. They are calculated by HMRC on a ‘behaviour based’ system, depending on the severity and perceived intent to conceal the misstatement.

Tax specialists at the national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young say taxpayers should consider appealing against such penalties as nearly 70% of them (62,876) were withdrawn last year when challenged. 

Neela Chauhan, Tax Partner at UHY Hacker Young, says taxpayers mustn’t underestimate how quickly their tax bill can increase if HMRC penalises them for even genuine errors. 

 
 

Says Neela Chauhan: “Errors on tax returns – even genuine mistakes – can add a huge cost to your tax bill and even put you at risk of a full tax investigation by HMRC.”

“Depending on the severity of the error, fines from HMRC can run to as much as 100% of the tax due. The best way to avoid such unnecessary costs is to prepare your self-assessment well ahead of the January 31stdeadline and pay close attention to the detail.”

If a taxpayer discovers an error on their return after filing, Neela Chauhan says the best course of action is to alert HMRC immediately.

 
 

“If you realise you’ve made an error after filing your return, it’s much better to proactively flag it to HMRC rather than waiting to see if they will discover it and risking a penalty.”

“In the worst case of being charged a penalty for an error, individuals should seek professional advice to understand whether they have grounds to appeal, as a significant number of these fines are withdrawn when challenged.”

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