A leading tax expert today warned taxpayers who need to submit a Self Assessment tax return not to leave it until the last minute due to continuing problems in contacting HMRC.

David Redfern, founder of DSR Tax Claims, spoke ahead of the 31 January deadline for tax return submission, stating that although he understood why people often leave their tax returns until close to the submission deadline, HMRC's phone problems could leave people open to penalties and fines for late filing.

HMRC always faces high demand for their services at this time of year due to the sheer number of people submitting a Self Assessment tax return, with over 10 million people in the UK will be expected to submit a tax return by the 31 January deadline.

Responding to reports that HMRC's phone lines and webchat services have been plagued with issues since last month, David noted that "the temptation is always there to leave your tax return submission to the last minute but if you then encounter any problems and you need HMRC's help to complete your tax return, you are going to find yourself missing that deadline".

He added: "With an automatic £100 penalty for missing the 31 January deadline by just one day, it could end up being a costly mistake to make, especially when personal finances are tight after the festive period".