Unless you are super organised, a last minute tax return generally means you will pay more tax than you need to. Give yourself time to assemble details of anything you can deduct from your earnings as an expense, such as gift aid donations and pension contributions. Your accountant will also be able to talk through the available tax reliefs and make sure you are paying the right amount of tax.
Filing your tax return early doesn’t mean you have to pay it early. It does however mean you know what your liability will be.. and this can help with budgeting.
If you owe less than £3,000 and already pay tax through PAYE, you will be able to spread the cost interest-free through your salary if you submit your return online by the end of the year.
If you’ve earned less than expected and are due a repayment, the sooner you file the tax return, the earlier you will get the repayment.
Because the vast majority of people leave their tax returns to the last minute, the HMRC helplines tend to be pretty busy on deadline day. Give yourself time to get your documents together, check that you have your UTR (‘unique taxpayers reference’), and avoid any computer or broadband failures. Can’t find your self-assessment login details? You can request a replacement here – this can take up to seven days and will come in the post.
Miss the 31 January deadline and HMRC will fine you £100, even if your tax liability is zero. And you need a pretty good excuse to avoid the fine. Click here to see which excuses did not work with HMRC’s tax inspectors!
Filing your tax return is a good excuse to escape the present wrapping / Christmas shopping / in-laws for a couple of hours. Need we say more?!
Self-assessment tax returns have to be completed by the self-employed and individuals with additional earnings over £2,500, whether from employment or savings and investments.
You also need to complete a return if your income was more than £100,000 in the past year or if you owe capital gains tax from selling assets such as shares or a second property. Families claiming child benefit will also need to file a self-assessment tax return if one parent earns £50,000 or more.
If this is your first time completing a self-assessment tax return you will need to register. Click here to register for the self-assessment service and choose the form that fits your circumstances (employee, sole trader, partner, etc). You’ll also need to have your national insurance number handy.