With less than 72 hours until the filing deadline (midnight on Friday evening), HMRC has revealed that some 2.5 million Self Assessment tax returns are still outstanding. The taxman yesterday announced they had received 8.3 million personal tax filings so far, but almost a quarter had yet to be received as the deadline draws ever closer.

This year a record 10.9 million personal tax returns are due to be filed, that number bolstered by around 100,000 high-earning parents who have claimed Child Benefit following the introduction of earning caps last year – these individuals must now file a Self Assessment to ensure they pay back any Child Benefit they were not entitled to claim. There are concerns that many of these parents are unaware they must file, and so will incur £100 penalties when they miss the deadline.

Traditionally deadline day – January 31st – is the busiest period for filing. Last year say over half a million Self Assessments processed by HMRC Online Services. Traffic peaked between 4pm and 5pm, when 12 returns were filed every second.

Despite awareness campaigns, the number of late filers continues to be problematic. Last year 7% of all Self Assessments were received late, netting HMRC £73 million in late filing penalties.

With increased numbers of freelancers, contractors and small business owners throughout the UK, the volume of individuals required to file has ballooned and, with many filing their very first Self Assessment, the number of late returns could very well increase too.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax yesterday warned taxpayers:

“There’s not much time left, so make a start on your tax return today. Leave it too late, and you’ll be hit with a penalty.”