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There are all sorts of reasons why you may need to submit a Self Assessment tax return. It could be because you’re self-employed, or have undeclared income from pensions or renting out property for example. In this article we’ll go over some of the most frequently asked questions from people wondering if they can do their own tax return.

Is it difficult to do your own tax return?

If you’re pretty clear on what you’re doing and your finances are fairly straight-forward, it’s perfectly possible to complete and submit your own Self Assessment tax return.

Although it can seem a little daunting, if you understand what you’re being asked, have kept accurate records and you’re well prepared, it’s not as difficult as it looks. Accuracy is key though, otherwise you could face stiff financial penalties.

Can I do my own tax return without an accountant?

The thing with tax returns is they can be time-consuming. It’s also easy to miss out on any expenses, reliefs and allowances that could cut your tax bill down. If you make a mistake and end up underpaying, you could also end up with fines and charges.

This is why many people use an accountant to complete their tax returns, particularly if their finances are more on the complex side. The costs of using an accountant are also, in fact, tax deductible, making it even better value!
 

How do I file my own tax return?

The quickest and easiest way is to file securely online. This can be done by registering online for Self Assessment.

Once you’ve signed up, an activation code will be sent in the post by HMRC. This can take between 10 and 21 days to get to you, so make sure you leave enough time. You will also be sent a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and user ID.

What do I need to submit my own tax return?

We strongly recommend having everything you need to hand before you begin – it makes things much easier!

Take a look at our Self Assessment Checklist to get started.

 
If you’re self-employed, have your bank or building society statements to hand too, as well the details of your profits, losses, and expenses from the year, as well as any other relevant business records.

Filling in your Self Assessment form

Before reaching the form itself, you’ll be asked a few short questions which will tailor the form to your circumstances.

  • The first part of the form confirms your personal details
  • The next section is about your income, so what you’ve gained through employment or self-employment, trusts, properties or capital gains
  • In the third section you’ll be asked about any income from pensions, bank or building society interest, dividend payments you receive as a shareholder, and any other benefits

It’s really important you tell HMRC about all of your income, not just your earnings through self-employment. Wherever the income has come from, it will need to be declared so you pay the right amount of tax.

Before your Self Assessment return is complete, you’ll also need to give information about any pension contributions, student loans, charitable donations, gifts, marriage allowances or child benefit. There are pop up help boxes along the way, but if anything is unclear, contact HMRC – or an accountant – to ask for help.

Allowable expenses and tax relief

Some people are nervous about claiming tax relief on their business expenses because they’re not too sure what counts as an allowable expense. A huge amount of expenses go unclaimed every year as a result – so ask for help if you need it! Allowable expenses include:

  • Travel costs, including travel fares, parking, fuel, food, and accommodation
  • Costs relating to your business premises, such as business rates and utilities
  • Office costs like phone bills and stationery
  • Marketing and advertising costs, including website costs
  • Staff costs such as salaries, wages and subcontractor costs
  • Clothing expenses and uniforms
  • Charges and fees, such as bank charges or the cost of insurance
  • CPD and training courses relating to your business
  • Items that are purchased to sell on. For instance, raw materials and stock

Do I need to send my receipts to HMRC?

There’s no need to send any accounts, receipts, or other paperwork to HMRC unless they specifically ask for it. If you do need to send any, keep the originals and just send copies.

The onus is on you to make sure the information you provide on your Self Assessment tax return is complete, accurate and honest. Carefully enter your figures as you go and double-check everything before finally submitting it.
 

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What does good bookkeeping look like?

Good bookkeeping involves managing the day-to-day finances of a business in a timely, accurate way, and it’s essential for submitting a tax return correctly. Typical bookkeeping duties can include:

  • Chasing payments from customers and clients
  • Managing payroll so that employees are paid correctly and on time, with the right amount of tax and NI deducted
  • Paying bills
  • Keeping accurate records so the business can claim tax relief on expenses, and operate as efficiently as possible

What are the Self Assessment deadlines?

There are certain Self Assessment deadlines you need to be aware of throughout the year. Missing deadlines can result in late penalties, interest and charges, so it’s best avoided! You’ll still need to submit your return by the deadline, even if you make a loss. Here are the key dates, actions, and payment deadlines to know about:

 

Deadline Action
5th October You must register for Self Assessment by 5th October following the end of the year in which you become self-employed.
31st October Submit your Self Assessment tax return if using a paper-based return
30th December Request that HMRC collect any tax you owe through your tax code
31st January Submit your online return, pay your bill, and make your first Payment on Account if needed
31st July Make your second payment on account

 
Worried about any aspect of Self Assessment? It’s well worth speaking to an accountant who can advise you on your specific situation. Call us on 020 3355 4047 and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Lauren Harvey

A fully AAT and ACCA qualified accountant, I support a wide range of businesses, from sole traders and partnerships to larger limited companies. Learn more about Lauren.

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