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The countdown begins: just 5 days left before annual self assessment tax return

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There are only five days left before British business owners are required to file their self-assessments for 2018/2019. The official closing date is the 31st of January at 11:59 pm where late filers will face a £100 fine from HMRC with a £10 increase after 3 months if they fail to make the cut.

But if you are yet to even register your self-assessment online – you are not alone; as 3 million people still need to submit the necessary paperwork.

Who needs to fill in a self-assessment tax return?

HMRC received over £70,000,000 in late fees from people who missed the self-assessment deadline for 2017/18. “Self-assessment is needed whenever tax due has not been deducted from wages, pensions and savings income, or when people or businesses have earned additional untaxed income,” says Erica Manderfield from Streets Chartered Accountants. 

A self assessment tax return should be completed:

  • When you’ve earned more than £2,500 from renting out a property 
  • When you and your partner have an annual income of more than £50,000 and receive child benefit 
  • When more than £2,500 in other untaxed income is earned i.e in commissions or tips
  • When you are self-employed 
  • Where you have an annual income of more than £100,000
  • When you have earned income from abroad that you need to pay tax on
  • When you have occasionally received trust income

Tax returns & the self-employed

The last year has seen a spike in the number of people required to fill out self-assessment forms, due to a growing trend in self-employment.

An article published in the Guardian revealed that 11.7 million people are liable for self-assessment, compared with 11.5 million last year. For those who are new to the sphere of business ownership, it can be quite a confusing task to tackle, especially as there is a fear you may be penalised if you fail to complete the forms correctly.

A report by GoSimple tax revealed that 21% of self-employed workers are expected to file in the last 72 hours of the self-assessment deadline this month, where just 10% will meet the deadline. 

Deborah Vickers, personal finance expert and channel director at moneyguru.com said: “A Self-Assessment tax return can look and sound very daunting, especially if it’s your first time doing one. “My tip is to prepare and be organised. You will need your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), National Insurance number, details of your untaxed income and records of expenses. Gather as much information as possible and HMRC produce a lot of useful help sheets, check them out before you start.”

What’s changed for people filing their self assessment tax returns this year?

 
  • Personal allowance – the amount people could earn before paying income tax increased from £11,500 to £11,850 – (a £70 tax cut for most workers)
  • Income tax – the starting point for paying 20% basic rate tax was declared as £11,850 and 40% tax rate started on earnings above £46,350 – an increase from £45,000.
  • National Insurance – this was charged at 12% of income on earnings above £8,424 – (an increase from the previous year of £8,164), up until earnings of more than £46,350. After this, the rate drops to 2%
  • Dividends – the cap on earning dividends tax-free dropped this year from £5,000 to £2,000

The small business imbalance

Lack of financial expertise costs UK SMEs the equivalent of 2.9 billion due to miscalculations and unpaid invoices. More shocking still, 36% of people responsible for finances in small to medium businesses do not have a relevant qualification.

However, for SME owners, this is an unsurprising and daily reality where they have to juggle many different roles in the formative years of keeping their business afloat.

“Two things are holding back British business: wasting time on manual admin and overpaying on tax. Small British businesses are spending 120 hours a year on finding and filing their financial paperwork – leading many to lose control of their balance sheet and 27% to give up more money than needed to the taxman because they’ve missed deadlines,” says Adrian Blair, CEO at digital bookkeeping app Receipt Bank.

Will going digital help streamline the process?

Online bookkeeping is one of the many things that could help aid SMEs in this process. Websites such as TaxScouts offer an all-in fee of £119 and can be completed online.

Co-founder Mart Abramov of TaxScouts provided this comment “In theory, people should not need help doing their taxes, but the current system is such an intimidating maze that it’s no wonder that people seek help from friends and family, accountants and companies like TaxScouts. It’s why we exist – to take the stress away from taxpayers by just doing their returns for them, quickly and affordably”.

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