ACCOUNTANCY firm Baker Tilly is warning that the bad weather predicted for this week may result in some taxpayers potentially facing a fine for returning their self-assessment tax returns late.

To date, around 5.5 million tax returns have been filed online, with HMRC estimating a further 3.5 million yet to file ahead of the January 31 deadline.

But taxpayers who have never used this online facility are required to register with HMRC beforehand, and this involves being sent an activation code by post which could take up to ten days to arrive.

With snow and bad weather predicted for many parts of the country this week, taxpayers who have left applying for their activation code until late in the process could find that it is delayed in the post, which may result in an automatic penalty of £100.

HMRC is currently emailing 650,000 taxpayers to remind them to submit their forms, and highlighting that as well as incurring a fine for filing late, any further delays could cost up to £10 a day if this goes over three months.

Leaving it longer, could mean that as well as paying a fine, a percentage of the amount of tax outstanding will also be charged.

George Bull, Baker Tilly’s senior tax partner, said: “Taxpayers who have yet to register for online filing now face the real possibility of missing the January 31 deadline.

“We know that the weather is predicted to be bad this week, and so those people in remote areas of the country who are waiting for an activation code could find that it is delayed if there are problems with the postal service.

‘It is doubtful that HMRC will accept any excuses around bad weather causing a delay in filing tax returns, and so taxpayers who haven’t submitted a return need to take action now.

“The taxman is keen to crack down on people sending their returns back late, meaning that the longer you delay, the more you'll have to pay.”