5 top tips when doing your Self Assessment tax return at the last minute

The January 31st deadline for Self Assessment to be submitted is looming fast and there’s only days left to complete and file your tax return to HMRC.

So if you’re one of the millions of people who still haven’t submitted their tax return – or haven’t even started it – how can you set about successfully tackling it at this late stage?

1. Be pragmatic if you’re going to file late

At this late stage, it’s important to be realistic when it comes to filing your tax return. If you haven’t yet registered your business with HMRC, or if you’re still waiting to receive either your activation PIN or your Unique Tax Reference (UTR) from them, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll be able to do this and get the information you need before the January 31st deadline passes.

But that’s not the end of the world. The worst that can happen in the first instance is that HMRC will fine you £100 for failing to file on time and you’ll also be charged interest for paying your tax late. You won’t automatically get a visit from a tax inspector or face immediate prosecution by the authorities. And remember you can still submit your tax return after the deadline has passed.

Just don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. HMRC starts increasing the 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. Dawdle too long and those penalties will quickly start to add up!

However, if you’ve got your activation PIN and UTR, there’s more than enough time to get your tax return completed and filed on time, provided that you…

2. Don’t get daunted by hard work

If you’ve got a great accounting system in place, or a good bookkeeping method that you use to stay on top of your financial information throughout the year, then it should be relatively easy to find the information you need to include on your tax return. You’ll have all of the stats about your business income and expenses to hand, which means it’s just a matter of extracting that data and adding any other income you’ve earned throughout the year (such as dividends on shares you own, interest on savings accounts etc…) in your tax return.

On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person that puts expense receipts in a shoebox and only checks their finances once every three months, you’re going to find it less easy. You’ll have to meticulously go through all of those expenses, and check all of your bank payments and transactions, to get the information you need; which could take many hours of hard work.

However, don’t be daunted by putting the graft in. You can’t cut corners when it comes to your business finances and it’s vitally important not to rush your tax return, so make sure you look at everything in turn and double check your calculations. If you don’t, you’re more likely to make mistakes or miss important information out which could mean that either a) you miss out on claiming tax relief on an expense you’ve incurred or b) you get your figures completely wrong and risk being penalised by HMRC for submitting an incorrect tax return.

Continue reading on page two…

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