Fiona Fraser, director of Fraser+ Accountants, provides some top time and money saving tips for completing your tax return before 31 January deadline.
“I can hardly believe we’re fast approaching that time of year again. If you are self-employed, you will know 31 January is the deadline for submitting your self assessment tax returns to HMRC. Perhaps you have been organised enough to prepare and submit weeks ago, or perhaps you’ve just been so busy that you’ll be working on it throughout the festive period and through January, hoping to meet the deadline.
“If you are not sure whether you need to complete a tax return, do check with HMRC by calling 0300 200 3310, don’t get caught out. Similarly, even if your circumstances have changed and you are no longer self-employed, you will have to complete and submit a tax return if HMRC have issued one, or you will be fined. Do remember that if you don’t submit your tax return by 31 January, you will automatically incur a £100 fine.
“Below is a list of my top tips to enable you to submit your tax return with half the hassle. This advice comes from my many years of working in accountancy and having to work on tax returns on behalf of my clients:
- Don’t panic if you don’t have all the relevant information required. Submit estimated figures before the deadline and amend your tax return when you have the right figures.
- If you have a problem with your return, contact HMRC immediately. The helpline number is: 0300 200 3310. It is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm Saturday and 9am to 5pm Sunday. We recommend that you call very early or very late. Usually there is less of a wait.
- If you are trying to find information on HMRC’s website, don’t use their search engine, use google instead. It is much easier and quicker to find the information this way.
- If you can’t find your UTR number, call HMRC now. They may have to post this out to you. I have found is never a quick process and you may miss the deadline for filing.
“It’s also important to realise that you may be paying more tax than necessary. Check out these following tips to make sure you’re not paying too much tax:
- You can claim capital allowances on equipment purchased for the business.
- If your profits are down on last year you can claim to reduce your payment. This will be an estimate and you will be charged tax on underpayment.
- If you work as a sub-contractor, don’t forget to put your CIS deductions on your tax return.
- Do you receive a pension or have made a pension draw down? All state and private pensions will need to go on your tax return.
- If you are a higher rate tax payer, and make any pension or gift aid payments, these will increase your basic rate band and therefore reduce your tax liability.
- If your employer pays mileage at less than 45p, you can claim the difference and reduce your tax.
- If you have a student loan and payments are not being deducted by your employer, don’t forget to tick the income contingent student loan box.
- If you work from home you can claim a proportion of your bills as business costs.
- Make a note of your business costs. A list of ‘allowable’ expenses can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/expenses-if-youre-self-employed/overview
“Next year, why not make things easier for yourself and find an accountant who can help you with this process, who can check all the details and ensure you are complying with the rules? We would be happy to chat to anyone looking for an accountant for this process. Please give us a call in February to discuss further 01738 450456.”