If you are self-employed, you will pay Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions if your profits exceed the relevant thresholds. Class 2 National Insurance contributions are the mechanism by which you build up qualifying years to earn entitlement to the state pension and certain contributory benefits. If your profits are below the small profits threshold, you can opt to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions voluntarily to maintain your National Insurance record.
Extended deadline for filing 2019/20 tax return
The normal filing deadline for the 2019/20 self-assessment tax return was 31 January 2021. However, to help taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC waived the late filing penalty that would usually apply where a return was filed after 31 January, as long as the return was filed by midnight on 28 February 2021. This effectively extended the filing window by one month.
This had unintended consequences for self-employed taxpayers who opted to file their 2019/20 tax return in February 2021, and who chose to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions voluntarily where their profits for 2019/20 were below the small profits threshold for that year of £6,365.
Nature of the problem
HMRC’s systems were unable to deal with the payment of voluntary Class 2 contributions where the 2019/20 tax return was filed after 31 January 2021. They did not have time to implement alternative procedures either.
The normal deadline for paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions for 2019/20 was 31 January 2021.
If you opted to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions voluntarily and paid by this date but before the return was filed, they could not be processed as HMRC were unaware of what the payment related to. This may be the case if you made the payment before the 31 January 2021 deadline, but filed your tax return in February 2021.
If you filed your return in February 2021 and paid your voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions when you filed your return, the contributions were paid late as they were paid after 31 January 2021. In this situation, HMRC corrected your return to remove the voluntary contributions.
Payments made in respect of voluntary Class 2 contributions in these circumstances were allocated elsewhere, held on account or refunded.
If you have been affected by this issue, you should contact HMRC on 0300 200 3500 as soon as you become aware that this is the case, for example, when you receive a refund, or see from your personal tax account that your contributions have been allocated against another payment.
If you have already received a refund, HMRC will let you know how you can pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily. If you have not already received a refund, they will ensure that the payment is correctly recorded as Class 2 National Insurance contributions.
Check your National Insurance record
It is advisable to check your National Insurance record to see if you have any gaps. Failure to contact HMRC if you have been affected by the above issue may mean that you do not receive a credit for 2019/20, resulting in a gap in your contributions record.
Contact us if you paid voluntary Class 2 National Insurance for 2019/20 and filed your return in February 2021 to check that your contributions have been credited to your account.