I know it seems a world away right now, but the deadlines for filing your self-assessment tax returns are coming up fast. In fact, if you still file by paper, you’ve only got 2 months to go! If you earn any money whatsoever outside of an employers PAYE scheme (so for example if you are self-employed, or sell things on the side), you need to file a return with HMRC. But if, like many, many others, you struggle with filling in the, admittedly complicated, forms on time, we have a few helpful hints for you.
Get An Online Account
Thanks to modern technology, you no longer have to fill in your tax return by paper. Instead, you can do it all online, which is not only easier for you, it actually gives you longer to fill it out. If you opt for online filing, you have until midnight on January 31st 2018 to file. It is simple and easy to register, but it does take 7 days to process, so make sure you do it sooner rather than later. Once you’ve received your code, you will be able to access your account and file your tax return whenever you’re ready.
Gather All Of Your Paperwork
There is nothing worse than getting halfway through completing your self-assessment tax return to find that you don’t have the right paperwork, so make sure you get everything together before you start. You will need:
- A P60 from your employer showing your income and the tax you’ve paid on it.
- A P11D or P9D detailing any benefits and expenses
- Details of interest on bank or building society accounts
- Dividends from investments
- Details of any other income you receive
With these 5 things, you will have all the information you need to fill in your self-assessment tax return.
Don’t Call HMRC (If You Can Help It)
If you want to hold onto your sanity, we recommend you avoid calling HMRC unless you absolutely have to. This isn’t just because it’s one of the busiest times of year for them and you will be spending hours on hold. Research from the Public Accounts Committee actually found that HMRC only answered 50% of phone calls in the first half of 2015, and over a third of those that were answered were put on hold for a minimum of 5 minutes before an operator even picked up the phone. Instead, odds are, most questions you have can be answered by the HMRC’s website. They host guides, walk throughs, videos and even webinars designed to help you fill in your self-assessment tax return without picking up the phone.
Use An Accountant
While there are hundreds of articles out there just like this one, that tell you how to make your self-assessment tax return as painless as possible, there is only one way to really, 100% achieve this. Use an accountant. Doing nothing at all with your self-assessment because it is too difficult or time-consuming will only result in heavy fines, and many people find the whole process of completing the return very stressful. But your accountant can sift through all the paperwork for you, fill in the forms correctly and make sure nothings been missed at all.
At Cove Accountancy Services, we specialise in helping smaller business owners and self-employed individuals manage their financial and tax affairs in the simplest, least stressful way. Our experts are able to help you through the process of filling in your self-assessment tax return with ad-hoc support or take on the filing process for you. For more information, or to book your free consultation, get in touch with us today.