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From 6th April it became compulsory for employers with less than 50 employees to submit their Employer annual return to HM Revenue & Customs online. It is also compulsory to file starter and leaver forms, and some pension forms online. Any employer who doesn’t submit these forms in a timely manner will be charged a penalty.

The deadline for submitting an Employer annual return online is 19th May 2011. Failure to do so will attract a penalty for late filing, as extra time for submission has been withdrawn by HMRC. In 2010-11, employers who had five employees or less escaped a penalty and could continue to submit paper forms. However, this concession has now been withdrawn. Employers with 50 or more employees are already required to file online, with anyone submitting a paper form being issued with a penalty. The first penalties will be issued for the three months ending 5th April 2011. If employers haven’t made prompt Pay As You Earn payments in 2010, they can expect to receive penalties which will be calculated based on the amounts owing and number of times a late payment has been made.

HMRC is encouraging all employers and individuals to file online, as there are many advantages. However, if you have a small business, you will have to consider the use of appropriate software and the time to complete and submit forms accurately. A low cost online accountancy firm will deal with the submission of all forms to HMRC, while preparing and submitting returns in a timely manner. Outsourcing to a low cost accountants could save your business a fortune in penalty charges.

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