HMRC issues scam warning as three million yet to file tax return

HMRC issues scam warning as three million yet to file tax return

Image: Wikimedia

According to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) more than three million have yet to file their self-assessment tax return just days before the January 31 deadline.
HMRC have said that this is roughly 29% of all those required to submit a self-assessment tax return, with failure to do so attracting fines and penalties. They have also said they will not fine anyone who is up to a month late, the second year running that they have shown leniency.
The deadline only applied to those who file online with paper returns having had to be in earlier.
Anyone unable to pay their self-assessment tax by 31 January will not receive a late payment penalty if they pay their tax in full, or set up a time to pay arrangement (which spreads the cost over time), by 1 April. However Interest will still be added to the bill for unpaid tax from 1 February.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said: “We know some customers may struggle to meet the self-assessment deadline on January 31, which is why we have waived penalties for one month, giving them extra time to meet their obligations.”
However, she still urged people not to delay in completing the requirement.

Tax return fraud

Campaigners have also warned taxpayers that fraudsters use the deadline as a “smokescreen” to steal money, with HMRC in the past been in the top five for most phished brands.
Fraudsters push out false emails and text messages claiming to be from HMRC and urging you to click on the link to complete your return. These are used to collect bank and personal details to allow them to steal money directly or to use your details to commit fraud.
Most people expect messages from HMRC at this time of year and the fraudsters piggy-backed on that expectation to catch unsuspecting victims according to Charlie Shakeshaft, founder of Individual Protection Solutions, which runs a membership scam alert programme.
He said: “This is a useful smokescreen for scam artists, because messages might not appear to people to have come out of the blue. But it is the time to be most vigilant.”

Phishing success

HMRC has recorded considerable success in reducing the number of so-called phishing messages in the last year, moving out of the top 100m brands worldwide for phishing messages.
New cyber controls had prevented 90% of the most convincing text messages from reaching the public, according to HMRC. In June last year 51 people were arrested at two call centres in Delhi, India, that were dedicated to facilitating HMRC scams.
The news that three million taxpayers have yet to file their tax return is a perfect opportunity for scammers to take advantage. As always be aware and don’t use links in emails or text messages to access sites like HMRC, rather enter as you would normally by entering the correct address in your browser.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at