Heavier penalties will apply this year for failing to meet the 31 January tax return deadline, warns adviser Saffery Champness.

There is now a £100 fixed penalty for submitting a tax return late, even if there is no additional tax to pay. In previous years the fine was cancelled if no tax was unpaid at 31 January.

If the return is more than three months late there is a £10 daily charge for up to 90 days. A return which is six months late will incur the penalties above plus a £300 fine or 5% of the tax due, whichever is the higher.

HMRC will now only accept online returns for the 2010/11 tax year and these can be filed until midnight on 31 January. The deadline for paper returns was 31 October 2011.

“Importantly, any business that has not yet registered for online filing needs to do so immediately. HMRC say it may take up to 10 days to process the registration and you cannot submit your return online until this has been done,” says Mike Harrison of the firm’s landed estates and rural business group.