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Ten Top Tips For Completing Your Self-Assessment Tax Return

The deadline for filing your Self Assessment Tax Return with HMRC is 31st January following the end of the tax year if you are filing online, or 31st October if you file on paper. If you intend to file your Self Assessment Tax Return yourself these top tips will highlight some of the main points to consider. We hope you find it useful.

  • Our first tip has to be to make sure that you have registered for Self Assessment with HMRC as it will not be possible to file a Tax Return unless you have a ten digit unique taxpayers reference (UTR). This is issued to you automatically if you register as self employed but if you require a Tax Return for another reason e.g. you are a company director you will need to complete an SA1 form to register for self assessment. If you are unsure if you need to complete a Tax Return see the advice page on HM Revenue & Customs website here.
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  • If you have completed a Tax Return for many years be aware that your circumstances may have changed and you may no longer need to complete one. If you no longer meet the Self Assessment criteria contact HMRC and ask them to close your Self Assessment record. Why expose yourself to the risk of penalties etc by complete Tax Returns unnecessarily.
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  • If you intend to file online via HMRC’s website be aware that to do so you will need to be registered for their online services. This will take a little time as it will involve an activation code being posted out to you. Make sure that, as a minimum, you register with the HMRC website now via the following link: https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/registration/
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  • It’s best to complete your Tax Return early so that you have plenty of time to set aside funds to meet any tax liability due at the 31 January payment deadline. Bear in mind that if this is your first year of completing a Tax Return the payments on account system may mean that you have to pay an additional 50% of your previous year’s tax bill as a payment on account for the current year. Don’t be caught out.
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  • If you make payments to charity or into a personal pension then make sure you claim the appropriate tax relief. Many people don’t appreciate that reporting these amounts could reduce your tax bill if you are a higher rate taxpayer.
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  • Make sure that you claim all expenses and allowances that you are entitled to claim. Failing to do so will result in you paying more tax than you are legally obliged to pay.
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  • Remember that HMRC now use sophisticated software to risk assess Tax Returns when selecting cases that may warrant follow up enquiries. By ensuring that you have entered all your income in the correct boxes and allocated all expenses to the correct categories it is less likely that your Tax Return will be selected for enquiry.
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  • If you have any problems or are unsure of what you are doing then it is best to seek professional advice. Inaccuracies on your Tax Return can result in penalties of up to 100% of the tax at stake depending on the circumstances. Where your affairs are more complex it is also possible that you are missing out on valuable reliefs and allowances of which you are unaware.
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  • If you are self employed and your total income for the year was less than the personal allowance (£11,500 for the 2017/18 tax year / £11,000 for 2016/17) then reduce any claim to capital allowances (tax relief available on assets purchased for your business). If appropriate restrict any claim so that you don’t waste your personal allowance by claiming too much. Any unused capital allowances can be carried forward to future years.
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  • The filing deadline for paper Tax Returns is 31 October each year. If you file after this date make sure you file online or you will be charged a late filing penalty, at a minimum this will be £100, potentially substantially more if you also miss the 31 January deadline. Be aware that late Tax Returns will always attract penalties, regardless of whether or not you owe any tax.
  • Hopefully the above tips are helpful and we have given you food for thought. If your affairs are anything other than straightforward we would strongly recommend that you seek professional assistance as Self Assessment can be a minefield. Often, by seeking professional advice, new clients are able to achieve tax savings that can cover some or all of the additional cost involved and of course have the reassurance that their Tax Return has been completed correctly.

    If you would like assistance with the completion of your Tax Return then we will be delighted to hear from you. To arrange a free initial consultation or to discuss your needs give us a call on 0141 848 7474 or drop us an email at mail@johnmtaylor.co.uk and we shall be happy to assist.

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