Citing the unusually large number of first-time filers, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has called on HMRC to push back the Self Assessment filing deadline of 31st January – just two days away.

The large number of newly self-employed workers (all of whom must file personal tax if they were trading in the 2012/13 tax year), and the addition of around 100,000 Child Benefit claimants means the expected number of personal tax returns sits at 10.9 million, with approximately 600,000 individuals filing for the first time.

With millions of returns still outstanding with less than 72 hours until the deadline, the ACCA has voiced concerns that those unaccustomed to completing a Self Assessment may suffer. Those who have not filed by midnight on Friday will be hit with an instant £100 penalty, with increasing fines if they delay further.

ACCA head of taxation Chas Roy-Chowdhury said:

“HMRC has a common-sense decision to make. Either it can stick to the deadline and penalise all those families and self-employed people who are struggling to get to grips with the Self Assessment process, or it can do the right thing and give them a lifeline by extending the deadline. Self Assessment is not easy and there are fines starting at £100 for missing the deadline even if you don’t owe any tax.

“The circumstances around this year’s deadline are different in that there will be a high number of people who will never have done Self Assessment in their lives. They are going to miss the deadline not because they have been putting it off, but because they are newcomers. If reports are to be believed that 2 million have yet to meet the deadline just two days before it closes, then it is likely a lot of people will miss it.”

“We urge HMRC to do the right thing and postpone the deadline.”