A Keighley firm of accountants is warning that some parents could face fines over child benefit payments if they don’t act quickly.

Under new rules, families with an adult earning over £50,000 during the 2012-13 tax year must repay part of their benefit.

And those earning more than £60,000 have to repay it completely.

The payments are declared by the high earner registering for self assessment and completing a tax return.

“For many families this will be the first time they have ever had to file tax returns and it is vital they don’t get caught out,” said Dave Forrester  of TaxAssist Accountants, in Cavendish Street.

“They only have until January 31 to file their tax return electronically, and it could take up to ten days just to register for online access if this is their first time filing.

“Anyone missing the deadline will be hit with an automatic £100 fine, with further penalties reaching £1,600 for those who file more than a year late.

“The only other option is to opt out of receiving child benefit, in which case you’re not liable for the new tax charge and won’t need to file a tax return for this.

“However you must ensure your affairs are in order, otherwise you may risk losing your entitlement to state benefits later in life.”