By Marcus Leach

With the 31 October deadline for paper tax returns just days away, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is urging anyone who hasn’t yet filed their paper return to act now, to avoid a late-filing penalty.

If you send in a paper tax return on or after 1 November, you will now be hit with a £100 penalty — even if there is no tax to pay or the tax due is paid on time — following the introduction of a new penalty regime this year. The longer you delay, the more you'll have to pay, as there are further late-filing penalties after three, six and twelve months.

If you can’t send your paper return by 31 October, you can still avoid a penalty by sending your tax return online instead. However, if you do send a paper return after the 31 October deadline, you cannot avoid the initial £100 penalty by subsequently filing online.

To find out more about the October deadline and sending a paper tax return, go to

If you send your tax return online, you get an extra three months to send it, as the deadline is 31 January. There are lots of other advantages too:

* your tax is calculated automatically;

* you get an immediate online acknowledgement; and

* your tax return is processed faster, so any money that you are owed is repaid more quickly.

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