Tax Return Statistics – How Many Are Submitting Late?

7 months ago

We get it. Submitting your tax return is not an enjoyable experience. It’s one of those would-rather-poke-your-eyes out necessary evils of freelancing or self employed life though.

Some are incredibly organised and submit it months in advance. Others (ahem, maybe me) are more like the December or early January types. Some are right to the wire on deadline day. And, according to these tax return statistics, a fair quantity of people submit theirs late.

We acquired some data from the very helpful Freedom of Information team at HMRC to find out how widespread late submission is and where in the UK it’s most prevalent. See the final paragraph on this page to find the methodology and notes on the numbers.

Statistics: How Many Tax Returns are Submitted Late?

According to data provided to me by HMRC:

“11,665,300 Self Assessment returns for the tax year 2017-18, with a filing deadline of 31 January 2019, were issued by or on 31st October 2018. 

576,500 self assessment returns included in the total above were received after the January 2019 deadline but before January 2020. This is when our data was last refreshed.”

 In other words, 4.94% of tax returns due by 31st January 2019 were late.


Late Returns – Where in the Country is Submitting Latest?

HMRC broke this down by region for us. Here’s the spreadsheet they sent if you want the raw data.

The key findings:

  • The local authority with the highest proportion of late returns is Tower Hamlets (8.38%)
  • This was followed by Hackney (7.97%) and Newham (7.94%)
  • In fact, 8 of the 10 local authorities with the highest proportion of late returns are located within the London GOR.
  • The local authority with the lowest proportion of late returns is South Lakeland in Cumbria, where just 2.56% of returns were submitted late

Here is the data:




In the table above you can sort and search the data to find your own local authority or organise by county.

Notes on the Data

HMRC provided the data to the nearest 100, which means totals don’t always match perfectly with overall number of returns submitted late.

Where fewer than 500 returns were submitted late (largely in authorities where few returns are issued) HMRC simply provided “<500” as the response there. In these cases, we’re unable to fairly calculate the percentage of tax returns filed late and we left these as unknown.

The data pertains to tax returns that relate to the tax year 2017/18, which ended in April 2018 where the tax return was due by 31st January 2019.

Data was provided to us by HMCR in February 2020.

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Tax Return Statistics – How Many Are Submitting Late?