SMALL businesses across Southampton are being urged to avoid stress and financial penalties by filling in tax returns.

Local businesses must submit their online tax returns by January 31 or face an on-the-spot penalty of £100 for filing even a day late, even if they have no tax to pay or have paid the tax they owe.

Kumar Nayar, who runs TaxAssist Accountants in Southampton, said: “Filing early doesn’t mean you have to pay any tax due early, but if you are due a refund, HMRC will return this to you sooner. Make sure it’s you that earns the interest on any tax refunds, not the taxman.

“We see small businesses either rushed off their feet or winding down throughout the Christmas and new year period, which is why small businesses across Southampton should get their tax returns in order early to avoid unnecessary fines.”

He added that the £100 late payment penalty is now automatic and would not be reduced, even if they paid their tax on time.

Returns which were three months late faced an additional £10 a day penalty up to a maximum of £900 and even harsher penalties applied if they were filed more than six months late.