No? Then submit your tax return on time. Tardy taxpayers who haven’t submitted their 2012-13 returns have been clocking up fines at the rate of a tenner a day from May 1st and the fines will be carrying on, day by day, until the end of July… nasty!

Yet more fines

If you’re late this year you will already have been fined £100 when you missed the 31st January deadline. If you manage to delay right up to 31st July the £10 a day rule adds an extra £900 or so to your punishment, a total fine of a grand. And it applies even if it turns out you don’t owe any tax. Ouch.

And even more…

Are you free and clear of fines after 31st July? No. From 1st August you also face an extra penalty; 5% of the tax you owe or £300, whichever is the greatest. Six months later you’ll pay another £300 or 5% of what you owe. And there’s more… if you pay late you’ll also have to shell out 5% of the tax you should have paid, which HMRC will take 30 days, 6 months and a year after the January deadline. There’s only one way out. If you don’t think you should be in the self-assessment tax system you can appeal. If HMRC agrees your penalties will be cancelled. Otherwise you’ll have to put up and shut up.

VAT – no more Mr Nice Guy

Another survey has highlighted that HMRC’s VAT review process also looks like it’s making more decisions in the tax man’s favour. VAT one, you nil.

HMRC grows bigger balls

It’s clear HMRC are getting much tougher. And it’s a trend that’s reflected in other ways as the tax man also takes a scarily unforgiving stance on consumer complaints. Apparently HMRC are rejecting more complaints about their conduct than ever, upholding a piffling 30% of more than 75,000 complaints registered in 2011 and 2012. It’s a reduction of almost 10% on the previous year, the most complaints rejected since the department introduced its recording system back in 2007.

How to stay out of trouble

If you go all funny at the thought of keeping your VAT records in order and getting your tax act together, get help. It makes more sense to pay someone who actually enjoys the process than shell out £1600 plus in fines for terminally late tax returns, at least £900 more if you delay paying your tax for a year and being slapped hard and mercilessly by the VAT people.