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The number of self-assessment taxpayers who have been fined by HM Revenue & Customs has reached a new high. Fines have been issued to 1.5 million taxpayers due to late filing of their tax return in 2011, which is eight percent more than 2010 and 56 percent greater than 2006. HMRC have also extended their tax amnesty campaign to private tutors and coaches, following the success of the tax campaigns for the medical profession, dentists and plumbers.

New penalties were introduced in April 2011, which have seen the amounts of fines increase, whether you pay tax or not. In the past, if the tax due was paid in a timely manner, penalties wouldn’t be issued for late filing of the tax return. However, the new penalties will see a self-assessment taxpayer being fined £100 for being even one day later than the deadline, followed by £10 each day after a three month period. The fines will increase after being six months late and then increase again if the return hasn’t been submitted after a year, a possible figure of more than £1600.

According to tax partner of PKF business advisers, Neil Whyte HMRC are becoming much stricter and will issue penalties even if a genuine error has been made. He said:

“People must be aware that HMRC means business and will not tolerate late returns or late payments and they must get their paperwork in order to file and pay on time.”

This applies to anyone who falls within the scope of the tax amnesty, as penalties for anyone caught by HMRC cheating their taxes will receive harsher penalties.

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