Each year, thousands of self-employed people fail to file their tax returns with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on time. Follow these six practical steps to avoid filing a late return and suffering penalties as a consequence.
- Make sure you’re registered for Self Assessment. You can do this online at any time via HMRC’s website but you have to register by 5th October following the end of tax year for which you need to declare taxable income. In order to register you’ll need:
- your National Insurance number
- your contact details
- your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). If this is your first Self Assessment registration, HMRC will issue you with one.
- Keep accurate records. Ensure that you maintain up-to-date details of:
- your income and outgoing payments
- purchases or sales of assets
- any other form of income, either from UK property, savings or investments
This is the best way of hitting the return deadline. If you’re records aren’t up to date and you don’t have all the necessary paperwork neatly filed, you’ll end up spending valuable time tracking items down, requesting duplicate records and reconciling your figures.
- If you don’t have all the necessary financial information available, you can provide estimates or provisional figures, explaining how you arrived at the given figures. An estimate indicates you want HMRC to accept this as your final figure, while a provisional figure indicates that you’ll provide actual amounts later.
- If your business is a partnership you’ll need to register as a partner in the business. To register as a partner you’ll need:
- the business address and postcode
- the partnership’s UTR
- a company registration number if registered with Companies House
- Be aware of the deadline dates. If you’re filing a paper return it must reach HMRC by midnight on 31st October. Send it to the tax office shown on the front page of the form and in the envelope provided. Online returns must reach HMRC by midnight on 1st January. HMRC will confirm receipt of an online return but not paper returns.
- Don’t leave it until the very last minute. If you’re filing an online return, make sure your computer and internet connection is working as it should a day or two before the return is due.
- Get help if necessary. Don’t avoid making a return because there are certain sections you don’t understand.