Self-assessment tax return deadline relief for the flood-hit

Flooding clean-up in Carlisle Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many homes and businesses were affected by the floods

Taxpayers required to complete a tax return before the 31 January deadline will be given extra time if they were affected by floods that hit the UK.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said that any businesses and individuals unable to complete the online return owing to damage should contact them.

But accountants have warned that this will not be an indefinite suspension of fines if people fail to file.

Thousands of homes and businesses were hit by flooding in December.

About 16,000 houses in England were flooded during the wettest December in a century, with Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire the hardest hit. Many homes and businesses in Scotland were also hit by storms at the turn of the year.

Storm Desmond and Storm Eva caused millions of pounds of damage, including paperwork vital for businesses, the self-employed, and those with multiple sources of income to file their tax returns.

HMRC said that anyone who felt they were unable to file before the 31 January deadline should get in touch and agree a new deadline. Those who miss the deadline will have the opportunity to appeal.

Generally, anyone filing up to three months late faces a penalty of £100, a sum that increases for anyone filing more than three months late.

The tax authority will also agree to instalments if taxpayers are unable to pay as a result of the floods. Debt collection proceedings will also be suspended for those affected by flooding.

Tax experts point out that penalties are automatically generated, so businesses and individuals will have to be proactive.

"This is not an indefinite suspension of self-assessment penalties, but a recognition of the difficulties many businesses suffered that was beyond their control," said Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

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