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From pensioners to teenagers, HMRC reveals who files a tax return

People aged 65 and over accounted for 16% of those who filed a tax return for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

HMRC has today revealed that more pensioners filed a tax return for the 2020 to 2021 tax year compared to young people.

Overall, those aged 65 and over accounted for 16% of individuals who submitted a tax return, whereas 16 to 24 year olds made up 2.7% of total filers.

The new data is part of analysis by HMRC into the demographic data of the Self Assessment population. The findings also show:

  • people aged 45 to 54 were the largest group of filers, accounting for 24% of all tax returns submitted
  • more than 294,000 16 to 24 year olds filed a return, making up 2.7% of total filers
  • 62% of those who submitted a return last year were men, compared to 38% who were women

The data also showed that almost 146,000 people submitted their tax return at the earliest opportunity between 6 and 11 April 2021.

More than 12 million people are expected to file a Self Assessment tax return for the 2021 to 2022 tax year. Anyone yet to submit theirs has until 31 January to complete it, pay any tax owed or set up a payment plan, or risk having to pay a penalty.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:

Time is running out for anyone who has yet to start their tax return – there is a wide range of guidance and webinars available online for those who need a helping hand. Just search ‘Self Assessment’ on GOV.UK to make a start.

Payments are also due on 31 January and customers still have time to decide which payment option is best for them. For customers who are due a refund, they should include their bank account details in their tax return so that if HMRC needs to repay them, it can be done quickly and securely.

Customers can now use the free and secure HMRC app to make Self Assessment payments, as well as accessing information which they need to complete their tax return, including their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), National Insurance number and employment history.

Those who are unable to pay their tax bill in full can access support and advice on GOV.UK. HMRC may be able to help by arranging an affordable payment plan, known as Time to Pay. Customers should try to do this online; go to GOV.UK for more information. Alternatively, they can contact the helpline.

HMRC has a wide range of resources to help customers complete their tax return, including guidance, webinars and YouTube videos.

Customers need to be aware of the risk of scams as criminals use Self Assessment as an opportunity to commit fraud. Customers should check HMRC’s scams advice on GOV.UK.

Further information

Demographic data for individuals who filed a 2020 to 2021 tax return between 6 April 2021 and 5 April 2022.

Age group Unknown Female Male All
Unknown 500 35,800 41,900 78,200
16 to 24 300 87,600 206,500 294,400
25 to 34 1,200 504,400 960,300 1,465,900
35 to 44 2,600 867,900 1,462,600 2,333,100
45 to 54 3,400 978,200 1,613,200 2,594,800
55 to 64 2,400 856,200 1,390,400 2,249,000
65 and over 1,800 759,600 1,068,300 1,829,700
All 2,200 4,089,600 6,743,100 10,844,900

Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Figures relate to Self Assessment returns for individuals only

Find out more about Self Assessment.

The deadline is 31 January 2023. There are no plans to extend the filing and payment deadline.

HMRC will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders. The penalties for late tax returns are:

  • an initial fixed penalty of £100 the day after the due date, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
  • after 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • after 6 months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater

There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, 6 months and 12 months.

HMRC wants to help you get your tax right. While this is the busiest time of the year for us, there’s lots of information and support you can access online without ringing us:

Customers who no longer need to complete a Self Assessment tax return need to let us know otherwise we’ll think you’re late with your tax return and may issue a penalty. Find out how to do this on GOV.UK.

Customers should include their bank account details when filing, so that if HMRC needs to make a repayment, they can do so quickly and securely.

Customers who don’t have a Government Gateway user ID and password will need two forms of evidence to prove their identity. This can include their UK passport and UK driving licence. We are rolling out a new identity checking alternative, which lets them use the camera on their phone to confirm a match with their driving licence.

We’re urging customers never to share their Government Gateway user ID and password. Someone using these details could steal from them or make a fraudulent claim in their name.

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