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Tax return deadline extended until February and an increase in tax scams – What you need to know

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have extended the deadline for tax returns from 31st January until the end of February to accommodate delays due to Covid-19.

HMRC have outlined that an estimated 2.3million are left to file their tax return for the 2020/21 financial year. However, the £100 fine for late submissions will be waived, giving those who are self-employed or have a second form of income an extra month to submit online self-assessments. It is important to note that interest will still accrue on any 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 31 January which is why we have waived penalties for one month, giving them extra time to meet their obligations."

Despite this, it is important to be wary of an increase in fraud scams, pertaining to be from HMRC, with the true intent to steal credit card or personal details. Scams can include emails and text messages claiming a rebate is due, or threats of court action.

HMRC related scams are some of the most commonly experienced by UK citizens, and with increased genuine HMRC correspondence at the tax deadline, it is important to expect an increase in tax-related scams. Nearly 800,000 tax-related scams were reported in the last year.

Here are some watch outs:

  • PHONE SCAMS – In 2021, HMRC received 327,044 reports of phone scams, up 21% on the previous year. One example is an automated phone call which tells you HMRC is filing a lawsuit and asks respondents to press 1 to speak to a case worker to make a payment, or where a tax refund is offered when handing over bank details. If you receive any calls of this nature, hang up and contact HMRC directly to confirm if the refund is genuine.

  • EMAIL SCAMS – A common scam used by fraudsters are links contained within emails about tax rebates or refunds. It is important to note click on these links as they may direct you to phishing or virus sites, designed to steal your personal information. If the email feels genuine and you are unsure, you can forward it to but never enter any personal information.

An example of a scam phishing email.

An example of a fraudulent website, claiming to be HMRC.

  • TEXT MESSAGE SCAMS – Another common method used to scam is messages fraudulently claiming to be from HMRC about a tax refund, including a link to websites to “claim” outstanding funds. HMRC do not communicate through text or Whatsapp – these messages can be reported by forwarding to 60599.

An example of a scam text message.

Here is the link to contact HMRC – please note, these are the only official methods in which HMRC will get in touch with you. Remember to stay vigilant and forward this information to friends and family who may be at risk. Contact HMRC - GOV.UK (

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