As the deadline for online self-assessment form approaches, taxpayers have been urged to avoid gifting the taxman an unnecessary £500 million windfall in fines.
Late returns, miscalculations and surcharges on unpaid tax can all result in a penalty, and this year the total amount of fines paid could potentially add up to £24 million more than last year, according to unbiased.co.uk.
Failure to get forms to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) by 31 January incurs an initial £100 late payment charge, while if the form still hasn't been returned by 31 July, another penalty of £100 will be applied.
A further penalty of up to £60 a day can be charged if the forms have still not been returned after this.
"Failing to get your online self-assessment form to HMRC by 31 January, or filling it out incorrectly, will result in hefty fines which can easily be avoided through careful planning," said Karen Barrett, the website's chief executive.
"In the current climate where money is tighter than ever, we are urging consumers to take 'tax action' and ensure they fill out their forms correctly and in time of the 31 January deadline.
"Those who are confused and need help with their tax return forms should seek advice from an independent financial adviser."
In 2008, it was estimated that over one million self-assessment forms were received after 31 January.
Of these, the vast majority incurred a penalty of £100, and many more were subject to further surcharges.
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