Penalties for late filing

Produced by Tolley
  • (Updated for Budget 2021)

The following Owner-Managed Businesses guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Penalties for late filing
  • Introduction
  • When is a return considered to be delivered to HMRC?
  • Harmonised regime
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) ― penalties for late filing of the 2018/19 and 2019/20 self assessment tax returns
  • Penalties involving offshore matters
  • Corporation tax returns
  • Inheritance tax returns
  • Share scheme returns
  • Digital services tax returns
  • More...

Penalties for late filing


A single regime that imposes penalties for failure to make or deliver returns or documents on or before the statutory filing date for the particular return in question was legislated in 2009.

Despite this intention, the harmonised regime does not apply to:

  1. corporation tax returns

  2. inheritance tax returns

  3. share scheme returns

  4. digital services tax returns

The penalties under the harmonised regime and the penalties outside of the harmonised regime are summarised below.

When is a return considered to be delivered to HMRC?

Online returns are automatically recorded as being received as soon as the HMRC computer system receives the return. Simple checks are carried out automatically and HMRC reviews the return to ensure it is complete.

Returns sent by post or delivered in person are considered to be delivered when physically handed over to HMRC office staff, or placed in an HMRC office letter box during work hours. HMRC will update its computer system to show the return has been received, either on the day of receipt or as soon as possible afterwards. Again, simple checks are carried out and the return reviewed to ensure it is complete.

Harmonised regime

For a list of taxes to which the harmonised late filing penalty applies, see Simon’s Taxes A4.550.

The harmonised penalty regime imposes the following penalties:

  1. fixed penalty of £100 ― automatically issued if return filed late. This applies even if there is no tax to pay, the tax due has been paid on time or the taxpayer is due a refund

  2. daily penalties of £10 per day ― applied once the return is three months late. HMRC does not need to go to the Tribunal to levy these penalties and they run either until the return is filed or for a period of 90 days (whichever is the shorter)

  3. tax-geared penalties:

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