HSBC attack leaves millions of UK tax-payers facing fines

January 29th was the last working day before the 2016 self-assessment tax return deadline and while many people may have been hoping to take advantage of their handy online banking permissions, HSBC customers have been left frustrated and potentially facing fines for late payment.

Having suffered a cyber attack, HSBC’s online banking system was corrupted, forcing a daylong shutdown to ensue, when many customers needed the service the most. Unable to access pertinent financial information, or make online payments to HMRC, many self-employed individuals found themselves left angry at the technical glitch.

While HSBC kept HMRC updated as to the service limitations, many customers have been left wondering if they will be granted any leniency for late filing, which automatically incurs a penalty of £100. While reasonable excuses for late filing can see this fine waived, with computer or software issues bing listed as potential reasons, HMRC were quick to make the point that this incident should not be seen as a free pass to be unpunctual.

“The deadline for making payment to HMRC is midnight on 31 January so there is nothing stopping taxpayers making payments in the next two and a half days. When HSBC’s service does become available, taxpayers can make a Faster Payment to us at any time of the day or night (which we will receive within two hours). Alternatively, they can visit HMRC’s online payment gateway, which accepts credit and debit cards.”

It’s interesting to not that as of Friday 29th January, an estimated 1.5 million people were still due to submit their forms and it is unclear how many of these are HSBC customers. In the light of such technical difficulties, social media channels have been awash with trite comments as to this being a lesson in not leaving your return until the last minute, but it is doubtful that next year will be any different. In 2015, the peak time for submissions was January 30th, between 1pm and 2pm, with just short of 50,000 forms being received.