Four weeks to go ……………. The Self Assessment tax return filing deadline in looming!

Top tips for filing your 2017/18 Self Assessment tax return

Registering with HMRC

If this is your first year of filing a tax return, you will need to register with HMRC before you can start the Self Assessment process.  This will require HMRC to create a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) and send you an activation PIN before you will be able to complete and submit a return.

HMRC insist on sending these by post and it can take more than a week for HMRC to send you the information you require.  If you need to register, act fast!  Otherwise you’ll risk being unable to file by 31st January 2019 if you leave it too long.

Include all your information

Basically, you need to include any income you’ve received, or earned, from pretty much anywhere, on your Self Assessment tax return. Including but not limited to:

  • Form P60 – this shows your salary and tax for the year to 5th April 2018, if you have a job and you’re paid wages.
  • Form P11D – this shows the cash equivalent of any expenses or benefits you received from your employer in 2017/18.
  • Interest – If your bank/building society accounts pay you interest, you need to know how much interest you received in the tax year to 5th April 2018. Interest from ISA’s do not need to be included as this is tax free
  • For sole traders and partners in a partnership, you need to know your business’s income and expenses.
  • Dividends – any dividend received on shares you own, whether these are in your own company or another will also need to be included.

Follow the rules

There are many rules and regulations when it comes to tax, so make sure you follow these to the letter when completing your tax return.  For example:

  • Be very careful when you’re adding up any income or expenses
  • If you need to prepare accounts, state on what basis they are prepared. Cash basis – based on the dates the income/expenses are actually received/paid. Accruals basis – you must include income depending on when you did the work.
  • Ensure you’re fully up-to-speed with the rules surrounding business expenses and what you can/cannot claim. The most common contentious areas are:
    • Travel
    • Accommodation
    • Food and drink
    • Entertaining
    • Clothing
    • Business use of your home
  • If you have property income be aware of the changes to interest relief

Double check the forms – and submit them correctly

The deadline for online submission of 2017/18 tax returns is midnight on 31st January 2019 otherwise HMRC will issue an automatic fine of £100.  This applies if you’re even a day late and even if you don’t actually owe any tax.

Ensure you complete every section correctly and leave plenty of time to thoroughly double-check everything before you submit it.

A single, simple mistake or omission (such as not ticking the confirmation box at the end) could result in your tax return being rejected by HMRC and you being fined.

If you’re not confident in submitting your tax return, it may be a good idea to speak to a qualified accountant/tax adviser who will be able to check it for errors.

Be pragmatic

If you find yourself struggling to complete your tax return on time, do not rush it just to get it submitted as there can be penalties for submitting an incorrect return.  If you miss the deadline, the worst that can happen in the first instance is that HMRC will fine you £100 for failing to file on time. Interest will also be charged on any tax paid late.  You can still submit your tax return after the deadline has passed.  But, don’t get lulled into a false sense of security.  HMRC increases penalties for late filing if you leave it too long, and there are also additional charges and interest to pay when it comes to actually paying your tax bill late.

Completing a tax return can seem like a daunting process but don’t let it overwhelm you.  Make use of the available tools and useful information, follow the rules and if you get stuck, don’t forget that you can always come to Barnes Roffe for assistance.

 

Blog written by Emma Janes

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