1 million face pounds 100 fine for late tax

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The Independent Online
More than 1 million self-employed taxpayers who failed to get their tax returns in by Saturday's deadline will be fined pounds 100 each this month and face the prospect of interest and surcharges on the tax they owe. But the Inland Revenue has admitted many will have to appeal to lift fines which should not legally be levied.

Fines of pounds 100 each, plus interest at 9 per cent on tax due, will be sent by the end of February to the estimated 1.3 million taxpayers who have failed to send in tax returns and any payment due by Saturday's self- assessment deadline.

Taxpayers who by the end of February have still failed to pay can also be hit by a 5-per-cent surcharge on their tax bills. If the Revenue believes they are deliberately avoiding payment, it can levy fines of up to pounds 60 a day. The Revenue has admitted that a substantial proportion of the self- employed - those with little or no tax liability for last year - will face the pounds 100 fine even though it cannot legally be levied.

Under the Taxes Management Act of 1970, the Inland Revenue is barred from levying fines where the tax owed is less than the level of fine. This will be the case for hundreds of thousands of self-employed who either earned very little or got their tax liability down to less than pounds 100. Taxpayers who believe they have been fined unfairly have 30 days to appeal from the date of being fined.Tax returns must be submitted before an appeal can be considered. Final figures for the number of taxpayers who missed Saturday's deadline will be issued early this week, but it is widely estimated that up to1.3 million taxpayers have missed it, potentially netting the Revenue pounds 130m.