Self-assessment deadline looms for thousands

Nearly half a million people wait until the very last day to file their self-assessment tax form according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs.

Up to nine million taxpayers take part in self assessment each year where earnings have to be declared for the 2011-2012 tax year by 31 January. The deadline for paper self-assessment tax returns passed last October, now anyone wishing to file and thereby avoiding a £100 automatic fine will have to file online.

A record 9.45 million self-assessment returns were filed on time this year, and a record 7.65 million (80.9 per cent) of them were filed online. When there is, according to the HMRC, an "unforeseeable or unusual event" late filing of a tax return can be allowed such as a serious illness, disability or a failing in the HMRC computer system.

A HMRC spokesman said: "The rules are very exacting. Key thing now is for people to get filing, on the peak day last year about 450,000 people filed on line but its much quicker if people file before then, also peak times are mid morning and mid afternoon."

Failure to file online doesn't just trigger an automatic fine but after three months fines of £10 a day are added for 90 days.

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