HMRC phone lines “descended into chaos” ahead of tax return deadline day

Reports suggest that a “technology failure” left hundreds of thousands of self-assessment taxpayers “uncertain whether tax payments had cleared” on 30 January – the day before the deadline for online tax returns.

Approximately 11 million taxpayers are required to complete a self-assessment tax return every single year. All paper tax returns need to be filed with HMRC by the end of October, whereas the final deadline for online returns falls on 31 January.

Late returns will attract penalties from HMRC – beginning with an immediate £100 fine if a return is late by just a matter of hours.

A report in The Times suggests that as many as 400,000 taxpayers tend to wait until deadline day before they submit their self-assessment tax return.

This year, it is thought that thousands of taxpayers rushed to file their returns on the last two days of January. On 30 January, HMRC’s phone lines “descended into chaos,” buckling under the demand of desperate taxpayers seeking last minute information from HMRC’s customer service operatives.

The Times reports that a “technology failure” cut many callers off before they received their transaction numbers – leaving them uncertain whether their tax payments had cleared.