Government proposes replacing self assessment penalties with new points-based system

The £100 penalty regime for filing a late tax return could be scrapped and replaced with a new ‘driving licence-style’ points system, HMRC has revealed.

Under the current system, taxpayers who fail to submit their tax return by the 31 January deadline are liable to an instant £100 fine, with further penalties applying for prolonged delays.

Under new plans being considered by the tax authority, taxpayers who miss the self assessment filing deadline could receive points instead of an immediate fine. Only those taxpayers accruing too many points would then be penalised. Individuals would also see points wiped from their record after a set period of time.

It is thought that around 840,000 taxpayers missed the filing deadline in the last tax year.

The new ‘holistic’ approach is intended to focus on taxpayers who persistently break the rules rather than those who make genuine errors of judgement.

The proposals are included in the Treasury’s Red Book, which states: ‘The government will reform the penalty system for late or missing tax returns, adopting a new points-based approach. It will also consult on whether to simplify and harmonise penalties and interest due on late payments and repayments’.

HMRC intends to consult on the plans, and must seek approval from Parliament. If approved, the new points-based system could undergo a phased introduction for different taxes.

However, some experts have warned that the abolition of the £100 late filing penalty could have ‘unintended consequences’.

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) warned that a new points system could generate anomalies, and has urged the government to ensure that the consultation details exactly how the new system would work, in order to avoid such anomalies.

We can help to ensure that your tax returns are filed accurately and on time – please contact us for further assistance.

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