Over recent years HMRC has run a number of campaigns designed to encourage those whose tax affairs have fallen behind, or who have forgotten to tell their professional advisers of a particular source of income or gains, to come forward and ‘make a clean breast of it’, the incentive generally being that a more favourable position on penalties will be available.

The most high profile of these campaigns has probably been the ‘amnesty’ for the disclosure of funds held offshore, but HMRC has simultaneously been moving to a professions-based approach, with disclosure opportunities aimed specifically at doctors and dentists, for example, and then more recently at plumbers.

In tandem with the disclosure opportunities, however, HMRC is making it a priority to crack down on those who do not disclose. In June HMRC announced that it will launch a campaign in 2011/12 which will focus on those who ‘trade’ on eBay, or who provide tuition and coaching of any sort (including, for example, fitness, dancing and lifestyle coaching and tutoring national curriculum subjects), whether as a primary or secondary source of income. Coupled with the campaign, HMRC has announced that it will increase its use of cutting-edge technology to identify and pursue cases where insufficient tax is paid.

HMRC is adopting an increasingly penal stance for those who are late submitting their annual tax returns, or paying tax due. In the past, for example, the £100 latefiling penalty would not have been charged provided the tax liabilities for the year were actually paid by the following 31 January. So a reminder of the relevant facts may be helpful.

Filing dates for 2010/11 tax returns  - click here to see table

Penalties for late filing - click here to see table

Penalties for late payment of tax - click here to see table