The Week Unzipped: Customs set to impose tough penalties over late self-assessment forms

ONE million taxpayers face tough penalties as HM Revenue & Customs cracks down on late self-assessment tax returns, even if they pay all their tax on time.

Nearly one million people have filed their return late each year since self-assessment was introduced in 1997, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

Until now HMRC charged no penalty for late forms, providing the person had paid all the tax due. Now paper tax forms filed even one day after the 31 October deadline will be hit by an instant 100 fine, with an additional 10 per day added after three months to a maximum of 900.

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Those still filing paper returns must submit them by the October deadline, though those filing on line can do so before the end of January.

HMRC will further fine the larger of 300 or 5 per cent of the tax due when late forms pass the six-month or one year mark. From next January the same will apply for people who file their form online.

Network security plea

THE Association of British Insurers has issued an urgent warning to the 35 million social network users in the UK not to disclose their holiday plans before going away, as criminals are increasingly turning to the internet to target unoccupied homes.

It is estimated that more than a third of UK social network users post details of when they will be away. In the US, a gang broke into 50 houses after checking their owners' whereabouts on Facebook.

Insurers dealt with 752 burglary claims every day during the peak holiday season last summer. The ABI advises homeowners to keep information to a minimum online and reject friend requests from strangers.

Hols cost parents 8bn

PARENTS are set to spend 8.6 billion on childcare and entertainment over the summer holidays, according to research from LV=.

The summer break typically sets families back 660 per child. Half of all families will forgo a trip abroad this summer and a third won't have a UK holiday. Over one third of parents say the cost of school holidays is unaffordable.

Young savers suffer

YOUNG savers see little return on their investment, with the average junior savings account paying just 1.01 per cent interest, according to research by Which?.

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The consumer group found that half of easy access children's savings accounts offer a rate of 1 per cent or less. First Trust Bank's junior saver pays just 0.05 per cent; a tenth of Bank of England's base rate.

Child Trust Funds fare little better, with a cash CTF from Nationwide offering a return of 1.1 per cent. Which? predicts that rates will decline further as providers concentrate on the new Junior ISA market which will replace CTFs in November. CTF savers are currently prevented from transferring their funds to a Junior Isa.SSE prices to soar

SCOTTISH & Southern Energy is the latest energy provider to raise its prices, with an average increase of 11 per cent on electricity and 18 per cent on gas from 14 September.

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