The UK tax authority has for the first time waived penalties for late filing of personal tax returns, after professional bodies warned that an additional 1.5m people risked missing this year’s deadline because of the pandemic.

Some 950,000 people were late filing their returns for the 2018-2019 tax year. But HM Revenue & Customs has been warned that 2.5m will miss the deadline for 2019-2020 self-assessment returns, which are due on January 31.

HMRC has insisted that people will still have to pay their self-assessment tax on time and said anyone who had not completed their return should initially pay an estimated amount based on their income.

But the authority said it would not charge penalties on 2019-20 self-assessment returns submitted after the January 31 deadline, as long as they were filed by February 28.

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