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Firms warned of HMRC's tough approach to late payments

With only a week to go until the 2011-12 self assessment tax return deadline passes, small businesses are being warned of HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) tough approach to late payments.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the department presented more petitions to wind up late-paying firms (5,302) in the year to March 2012 than it did in the 12 months before this (3,367).

While HMRC says it does not aim to wind up any firm and does not take such action lightly, it will look to recoup any tax owed to the Exchequer.

Speaking about what small businesses can do to avoid problems, Jo Nockels ACCA, Training and Communications Manager at TaxAssist Accountants, said: "Good records are vital for small businesses - not only so they have a clear view of the cash situation, but also to establish any liabilities with HMRC and suppliers.

"Diarising important dates for submissions and payments also helps to avoid last minute panics and penalties from the HMRC. Many small businesses take advantage of the HMRC's Time to Pay payment plans, but you must not already be late with payment - foresight is essential."

The self assessment tax return deadline for 2011-12 is next Thursday (January 31st).

Posted Thomas Fletcher

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