HMRC launches self-assessment amnesty

Self-assessment taxpayers who have failed to submit tax returns are being offered the opportunity to settle their arrears in an HMRC campaign.

From this week, the campaign is aimed at people who have received a self-assessment tax return or notice to complete a tax return for any year up to 2011/12, but are yet to take action.

The scheme will see HMRC writing directly to several thousand people it has identified using intelligence-gathering software, before following up with calls to many of them.

This latest drive follows a similar initiative undertaken last year, which covered higher-rate taxpayers who had failed to submit 2008/09 or 2009/10 returns. That campaign yielded more than £30m when over 3000 people came forward filing more than 5500 returns.

Once participants have told HMRC they wish to take part in the campaign, they have until 15 October 2013 to complete and submit a return, and pay the tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) that they owe.

After 15 October, if they have not submitted their returns and paid the tax due, penalties of up to 100% of the tax, or even criminal investigation, could follow.

HMRC head of campaigns Marian Wilson said “This is definitely the best time to catch up, on the best possible terms. While some penalties will apply, it is likely to cost people more if we have to find them rather than them coming to us. We have made it easy to take part.

“We know this approach works because campaigns launched so far have produced more than &547m through people coming forward voluntarily. And evidence shows that people who change their behaviour voluntarily are more likely to remain compliant for longer. We will continue to analyse information using connect, our state-of-the-art risking engine, and will be looking more closely at people who have gaps in their tax records.”

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