HMRC is allowing your second self-assessment payment due on 31 July 2020 on account for the tax year 2019/20 to be deferred, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This means no interest or penalties will be charged on the deferred payment provided it is paid by 31 January 2021. All taxpayers within self-assessment can take advantage of the deferral option, not just those who are self-employed. There is no need to tell HMRC that the payment on account is being deferred.

Paying the deferred amount

Although you can still make the payment by 31 July 2020 as normal if you’re able to do so, deferral will be attractive if cash flow is a concern. The deferred amount can then be paid between 31 July 2020 and 31 January 2021:

  • in full using normal payment methods, or
  • in instalments by setting up a budget payment plan with HMRC.

Snowball effect

Although you do not need to pay the deferred payment until 31 January 2021, there is likely to be a snowball effect if it is not paid off by then. This is because that is also the deadline for paying any balancing amount for 2019/20, plus the first payment on account for 2020/21. If you make your accounts up to 31 March or 5 April, then these amounts will be based on profits for the year ended 31 March/5 April 2020, so mainly pre-COVID-19.

Even though payments on account for 2020/21 can be reduced to an estimate of the tax and NICs that will actually be due for this year, these might not be as low as you expect once council COVID-19 grants and amounts received under the self-employment income support scheme are included.

As things currently stand, HMRC will apply the usual interest, penalties and debt collection procedures for payments missed from 31 January 2021 onwards.

Reductions to income caused by Covid-19 could affect your tax bill in other ways:

  • It may now make sense to restart child benefit payments because your drop in income means they will not be taxed away to zero.
  • You may have regained some or all of your personal allowance for 2020/21.
  • You might become eligible for a higher personal savings allowance.

If you have suffered a drop in income, it is worth checking with on which actions to take now and which can be left to come out in the final HMRC tax calculation.

HMRC guidance on options for paying a deferred payment on account is available.