The deadline for submitting your self-assessment #taxreturns online to HMRC is 31 January. You also have to pay any tax you owe by that date.
That’s less than a week to go. In case you’ve left this to the last minute, we’ve put together a little checklist to help you sort out your return. Remember, this is for the tax year ending 5 April 2014, and you need your unique tax reference (UTR) number issued by #HMRC.
It’s just like doing your homework. First, get all your kit together: account books, highlighters (find entries quickly when they’re picked out in neon colours), black ballpoints (best results if you want to underline and photocopy papers), pencils – back to the classroom – for chewing when tackling difficult sums.
Set aside a notebook to do your calculations. Keep this as a running one for future #tax years – that way you will have all your jottings and queries in one place. Next, a calculator – there is nothing as satisfying as totting up figures on a desktop calculator, rather than using one on your computer. (Though you could still enter all your figures onto a spreadsheet.)
Now that you have all the office equipment, collect all your papers.
• Find last year’s tax return. This will act as a template for this year and remind you of all the information you need to file a return.
• Have all your income details to hand. Check that you have the relevant bank or financial statements. If you are missing some, ask for copies because you need accurate details of money paid to you – a ballpark figure will not do
• In case you have received compensation of some kind, such as for a mis-sold PPI, you may have already had tax deducted on the payment
• For savings, make sure you have tax deduction certificates from banks and building societies. These will show the interest paid, with tax deducted at source
• If you have a joint savings account you only need to show half the interest earned on your tax return
• Remember that some investments, such as Premium Bonds and ISAs are tax free and do not need to be declared
• Take another look at your allowances. Are you certain you’re claiming for all the items you are entitled to? For example, you may be able to claim a percentage of mortgage interest or council tax if you run your business from home. If you’re allowed mileage costs, go through your mileage record book
• Check your expenses, because many costs, such as warranties on equipment are often overlooked. Have you spent money on advertising, or paid for printing and publicity materials?
• Go through your petty cash book to see if there are any incidental costs that may have escaped your notice
It’s time to start on filing the return. One useful tip from experts is that you can fill in the return online in stages, but remember to save it regularly so that you do not lose all the work and effort. It’s also important to double-check the figures because an amended tax return can lead to penalties.
Do get professional advice from a consultant if you are feeling unsure. And HMRC has a telephone helpline and online services. (Remember that we are not accountants or tax experts, we’re just offering tips.)
So don’t delay – there’s a £100 penalty if you do not meet the 31 January deadline. And if you’re trying to find excuses for being late you’ll have to do better than these ones that HMRC have dealt with.