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Not filed your self-assessment tax return yet? Do it NOW - time's running out

Millions of taxpayers have until 31 January to file their online self-assessment tax return. Act NOW to avoid a 100 fine for missing the deadline especially if you're filing online for the first time or don't know your login details.

If you need to file a self-assessment tax return there are two things you need to do by 11.59pm on Wednesday 31 January:

Remember, as of last Saturday you CAN'T pay your tax bill with a personal credit card HM Revenue & Customs has stopped accepting them as a result of card fees being banned.

What login details do I need to complete my return online?

To complete your return online, you need to be registered with Government Gateway or Verify (you should be if you've filed a return previously). This is separate to registering for self-assessment itself, which you should have done by 5 October. You can sign in on the website to file your return.

If it's your first time filing a return, you'll need to register for a login again, via Do this ASAP as it can take up to 10 days to receive the activation code you need.

What if I've lost my user ID/password details?

With multiple logins to remember for different accounts, it's understandable that some people may forget their HMRC user ID or password info.

If you've forgotten your user ID OR your password, here's how to retrieve it:

If you've forgotten your user ID AND password (it happens...) you'll need to go through a longer reset process with HMRC which will require extra info such as your national insurance number and takes about 10 minutes.

You can reset your user ID and password and read more info on the sign in or register page.

Can't I just file a paper return instead?

Not at this stage. The deadline for filing paper returns was 31 October, so you must file your return online if you were to file a paper return now you would be fined.

What do I need to pay with my tax return?

HMRC will usually send you a self-assessment statement that shows how much you owe, or you can check your tax bill online.

As well as any 2016/17 tax owing, most self-assessment payers must also pay the first half of what's called a 'payment on account' for 2017/18.

This is half the total expected tax due for 2017/18, estimated based on what you earned and paid in tax the previous year. So if you owe 2,000 for 2016/17, the first payment on account will be for 1,000, to be paid by 31 January 2018.

The next half (1,000 in the example above) must be paid by 31 July 2018, and if you've anything left to pay for 2017/18, you'll have to do so by 31 January 2019.

If you don't think you'll earn as much money during 2017/18, you can ask for your payment on account to be reduced, but you'll have to give a valid reason, such as an expected drop in profits or a change in circumstances.

You won't have to make payments on account if your previous year's self-assessment tax bill came to less than 1,000, or if you've already paid more than 80% of the total tax you owe eg, you have more than one job and your employer has deducted tax as normal from your earnings.

How can I pay?

You can pay by bank transfer or debit card as of 13 January 2018 you can no longer pay HMRC by personal credit card. HMRC will accept your payment on the date you make it, not the date it reaches HMRC's account including on weekends.

If you want to pay your tax by bank transfer, you can do so right up until the evening of 31 January (but you'll be cutting it fine if you wait until then).

HMRC accepts money under the Faster Payments system, which allows cash to go through in two hours. However, each bank has a limit on how much you can transfer using Faster Payments, ranging from 5,000 to 250,000. See each provider's limit.

What if I miss the deadline?

You'll be fined but exactly how much depends on what you fail to do by the deadline:

The Government provides an online tool for calculating how much you'll need to pay in penalties and interest if you miss the deadlines.

What if I can't afford to pay the tax?

If your bill is correct but you find you can't afford it, contact HMRC as soon as possible as you may be able to avoid late payment penalties by coming to an arrangement to spread your payments over a period of time (see our Free Tax Code Calculator to ensure you're on the right tax code).

You'll need a reasonable excuse for not paying your tax on time. This is usually something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting a tax obligation, for example:

HMRC says whether or not it allows taxpayers to avoid late payment penalties "depends on individual circumstances". If you're struggling to pay before the deadline you should call 0300 200 3835.

Do I have to file a self-assessment tax return?

Don't be alarmed if this is the first you've heard of the self-assessment tax return deadline, as the chances are you don't need to file a return.

If you've been sent a self-assessment form or received notice since April 2017 that you need to fill one in, you'll need to do so it's typically required of self-employed people, but there are a few other instances when you might need to do it too.

If your tax is deducted by your employer, you usually don't need to submit a form unless you get additional income from a second job or freelance work, or have been caught up in the changes to child benefit. Since 2013, all parents with incomes above 50,000 who receive child benefit payments have to pay a tax charge based on their income.

If HMRC has asked you to complete a tax return but you don't think you need to, don't ignore the request, and tell it as soon as possible. You'll have to pay a penalty if you simply don't send one. If you haven't received notification, you should get in touch with HMRC if you fall into one of the following categories, as it's likely you'll need to file a return:

It's worth mentioning though that if you owe a one-off or small amount you may be able to make an individual payment to HMRC, rather than filing an online return.

Who should I contact for further advice?

Official help and advice on completing a self-assessment form is available online and you can use Twitter to get general help from HMRC, if you tweet @HMRCcustomers.

You can also call the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3310. This is open 8am to 8pm on weekdays, 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and 9am to 5pm on Sundays.