The countdown has begun to the 31 January Self Assessment deadline, with just days left for anyone in the East of England with an outstanding 2011-12 tax return to send it online to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
 
If you send your return late, you’ll receive a £100 penalty – even if you have no tax to pay or you pay your tax on time. The longer you delay, the more you’ll have to pay, as further late-filing penalties kick in after three, six and 12 months.If you haven't sent a tax return online before, you’ll need to sign up for HMRC’s online service by Monday 21 January. This is because it can take up to seven working days to complete the process, as an Activation Code has to be posted to you. People who’ve filed online before, but have lost their password or user ID and need a replacement, should also contact HMRC by this date.
 
It’s easy to register – just visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/signup and follow the instructions. You’ll immediately get a User ID and, once you’ve received the Activation Code in the post, you can activate your account. You can then complete your tax return online.
 
With the clock ticking, small businesses that have to complete a return, such as sole traders and partnerships, are being offered the chance to participate in one of three HMRC interactive webinars on “How to complete your Self Assessment return online”.
Participants will be able to see a live presentation and ask questions online.
 
The webinars will take place on: Saturday 19 January (1100 – 1200); Tuesday 22 January (1400 – 1500); and Wednesday 30 January (0800 – 0900). To register for these free events, visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/webinars/live.htm
 
The end of January is also the deadline for paying any tax you owe for the 2011-12 tax year.
 
Further information on completing your tax return is available by visiting www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa or calling the Self Assessment helpline on 0845 9000 444.