New Year: New Tax Demands.

January should be a time when we look forward to all the year has to offer.

It should be full of promise and optimism, but unfortunately much of that optimism is immediately swallowed up and overpowered by red tape. We’d probably all prefer to be doing something more constructive and enjoyable, but as an accountant Steven Glicher is bound to remind all of you that we are all obliged to do certain things in January to satisfy the requirements of the tax man.

Yes, unfortunately it’s that time of year again: time is running out for returning your online self-assessments tax returns for 2011-12.

You may have noticed the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) advertising campaign over the Christmas period urging people to find their “inner peace” by submitting their return, and thought the deadline was ages away. However, the deadline is now imminent. Anyone who has yet to use HMRC’s online service only has a week to obtain an activation code, with a January 21st deadline in place for this.

What’s more, anyone who misses the January 31st deadline for return submissions will be hit with an immediate £100 penalty – irrespective of whether there is any tax to pay – with further fines following at three, six and 12 months after the deadline is missed. Because of this accountants are now urging everyone to act immediately.

In other tax news, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned 50,000 businesses that their tax affairs will be closely scrutinised in the coming months after they failed to submit VAT returns.

To that end the department will be launching a new campaign that will mean from February 28th, any firm that fails to submit their monthly VAT returns online will have their tax details looked at in more detail. Small businesses and others are being given an opportunity to get their tax affairs up to date by this date and could receive lower penalties if they come forward voluntarily by the end of February.

Marian Wilson, Head of HMRC Campaigns, explained that this notice should act as a reminder that VAT must be paid on time:

“After February 28th, if they [small businesses] have not submitted their outstanding VAT returns and paid what they owe, HMRC will use its legal powers to pursue outstanding returns and any VAT that is unpaid,” she explained. “Penalties, or even criminal investigation, could follow.”

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