By Max Clarke

In anticipation of the rapidly approaching tax return deadline, HMRC is warning the public about about avoiding the late fee, and online submission.

Any outstanding 2009/10 returns must be filed online by 31 January 2011. If you submit your return after this date, you could receive a £100 late-filing penalty.

If you haven’t registered for online filing, you need to do so urgently. Registering for online filing is simple — visit the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/online. You’ll be given a User ID, and an Activation Code will be posted to you within seven working days — so register by 21 January to be sure of getting this by the end of January. Once you’ve activated the Self Assessment service, you can file online.

If you’ve filed online before, make sure that you have your User ID and password — it can take seven working days to get replacements, so if you need them, you need to take action now.

And don’t forget, 31 January 2011 is also the deadline for paying any tax you owe for the 2009/10 tax year.

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