Each year, at the end of January, the self-employed need to send their online self-assessment tax return to HMRC. Miss the deadline and you’ll have to stump up a £100 fine. Here’s how to get yours done in short order if time is against you.
Each year, around four million taxpayers send in their self-assessments in January, and almost one million leave it until the last couple of days. Research tells us that most self-employed taxpayers spend around three hours on their self-assessment forms. However, with our help, you can beat that. Here are some handy tips.
You’ll find a tax calculator for the self-employed on the HMRC website, and you can also find other online tax calculators. These online tools ensure your figures stack up before you send them to HMRC.
Remember to take into account all your tax-deductible expenses. It’s best to get clued-up on this as not all business expenses qualify. For example, you can’t claim expenses or allowances for buying building premises, but you can claim expenses for repairs and maintenance of those premises.
Other business expenses you’ll want to include stationery, rent, rates, power and insurance costs. You can also claim for marketing expenditure, uniforms, legal fees, raw materials and staff costs. Check out the HMRC website to see a complete list of expenses for the self-employed.
You can help yourself by getting organised way before the deadline. Along the way, you can log all your expenses in an Excel spreadsheet or an expenses app such as Freshbooks. You can also use the MileIQ app to work out your business mileage.
Another great tip is to store all your receipts in a dedicated box.
Perhaps you don’t have all the facts and figures you need to hand. You might be waiting on a pension statement or a list of bank charges. No matter. That’s no reason to miss the self-assessment deadline and risk a fine. You can provide provisional figures, provided you tell HMRC that’s what you’ve done.
Later, you can come up with the paperwork to confirm the numbers. You can also send in estimated figures, though you won’t be able to confirm these in the same way.
Even if it’s 31 January, there’s no reason to miss the self-assessment deadline. Last-minute submissions are easy. You’ll need to log in using your valid user ID and password. HMRC will have sent you a code – use it to activate your account.
Have you lost your log-in details? You can still log on with HMRC’s digital verification service. This will check your ID using third parties, such as credit reference agencies. You’ll also gain access to a digital tax account.
Once you’ve hit ‘submit’ on your self-assessment form, you’ll see an acknowledgement on the screen. You should make a note of the submission receipt reference number. HMRC will also send you an email acknowledgement as proof that you hit the deadline.
If, however, you didn’t meet the 31 January self-assessment deadline, HMRC won’t be very forgiving. You’ll need a very good excuse to avoid that fine. We’re talking the death of a close relative, an unplanned visit to a hospital, a flood or a fire that gutted your premises.
If such an unfortunate event does occur, HMRC has set up a helpline (0800 904 7900) offering practical help and advice. If you do miss the deadline, you should still get your tax return in ASAP or risk further fines.