Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

Six million meet tax deadline

HMRC website
Some late returns will escape the 100 fine

Nearly six million people met the weekend deadline for filing their self-assessment tax returns online.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said a record 5.8 million taxpayers had done so by midnight on Saturday 31 January - 53% more than last year.

It means that two thirds of all filings for 2007-08 have been submitted via the internet, rather than on paper.

The Revenue has confirmed that those who filed on Sunday, a day late, will escape the normal 100 fine.

"I am delighted that more and more people are recognising the benefits of filing their tax return online, said the financial secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms.

"Online returns make it easier and quicker to calculate how much tax you owe and you can pay online too," he added.

Late payments

HMRC's widespread publicity had said that anyone filing after the midnight Saturday deadline would be fined 100 automatically for submitting a late return.

But in fact the rules on the Revenue's website make it clear that this will not happen to the 14,506 people who filed on Sunday, just a day late.

"In practice we only charge the late filing penalty when the return is not received by the end of 1 February," according to HMRC's detailed guidance.

The peak day for submitting online returns was last Friday, when 390,000 people did so, particularly in the late afternoon.

More than 9.5 million taxpayers are in the self-assessment system, which was changed this year to encourage more people to submit their details via the internet.

HMRC did this by bringing forward the deadline for paper returns to last 31 October.

For either method, the deadline for actually paying any tax owed was still 31 January 2009.

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