Accountants are calling on HMRC to waive fines for late tax returns this year arguing that a third national lockdown has "changed the playing field" and piled further pressure on freelancers and small firms. HMRC said before Christmas it would accept coronavirus as a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline, but taxpayers would have to appeal first. Richard Wild, of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said forcing firms to appeal against fines that no one expected to be paid was a waste of time. "We have asked HMRC to waive late filing penalties for all returns filed before March 1 2021 in order to avoid adding further costs or compliance burdens," he said. The Association of Accounting Technicians has also called for fines for late filing to be dropped. Phil Hall, of the trade body, said: "Three lockdowns and the tier regime have certainly restricted many people from getting their tax information to their account ants in the usual way. It's pretty obvious that the number of taxpayers filing late this year is going to be much higher than in previous years." Andrew Chamberlain, of the IPSE, said 2020 had been a "financially devastating year for many of the self-employed and now their end of year tax bill will only add to their financial woes. He also called for the Government to not penalise late payment.