Things to keep in mind when submitting your tax return
by Dave Leaman, Business Finance Advisor on 27 January 2016
It’s that time of year again, when individuals and small business owners are scrambling to complete their tax return. The deadline for filing your online self- assessment for this tax year is 31 January 2016 – that’s this Sunday, yikes!
Paper submissions had to be submitted last year by 31 October 2015, so if you didn’t go down this route, your only option is to submit online, otherwise you may be subject to a £100 fine for late filing.
If you are not registered you may still be able to sign up for online self-assessment, however the log in details can take several days to come through so make sure you do this as soon as possible. If you are already registered but can’t find your gateway reference or password, ask for a reminder now!
Online self-assessment is very straightforward. It takes about an hour to do, provided you’ve prepared all the necessary information beforehand, and has several advantages over filing a paper return:
- It is convenient, safe and secure. Your account is encrypted and protected by your password and a unique User ID. You can amend your contact details and use the secure email channel to ask HMRC questions.
- Your tax return is tailored to your personal situation; you select only those pages that apply to your circumstances. You can complete it at your own pace, saving it as you go.
- Your tax is worked out automatically, so you know what you owe or are owed, and you receive an instant acknowledgment from HMRC.
- Refunds are paid more quickly than for paper returns.
- You can store your completed return online or on your computer and print out a copy for your records.
- You can pay by Direct Debit; this is secure and means you are less likely to miss your payment deadline.
- You can view your self-assessment payments and any amounts owed online. If you are self-employed, you can view liabilities and payments for your business taxes too.
In terms of paper work, whether personal or for your business, HMRC only require basic record keeping and the format is up to you. Don’t forget – records such as receipts, bank statements and invoices must be kept for five years after you’ve submitted your tax return. You might want to consider referencing your receipts and filing them chronologically for easy retrieval.
Hopefully you’re all under control and ready to go, but if you’ve endured a bit of stress in the lead up to next year, you might want to make a new 2016 resolution to update your records more regularly, in order to reduce the burden of working everything out at the eleventh hour.
For more information on submitting your tax return, visit gov.uk
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