Here is the thing: many people (individuals and business owners) do not understand the complexity associated with tax returns. They are often not registered to submit tax returns. Sometimes, they file it incorrectly and pay severe penalties. Sometimes, they miss the deadline!
Moreover, tax legislation is constantly changing, and keeping up with it is increasingly difficult. Completing Self Assessment tax returns, especially, can be confusing. To make the process easy for you, here are some nifty tips for filing the return, along with some key points to remember:
Before you file your Self Assessment tax return, keep the following items handy:
- The 10-digit UTR
- National insurance number
- Details of untaxed income in the previous tax year, such as income from dividends, profit from the sale of assets, or tips and commissions
- Records showing what tax you have already paid
- List of expenses related to self-employment that can be deducted when calculating your taxable profit
- Details of pension or charitable contributions
The tax return page is divided into two parts — the main section (including income, charitable donations, pensions and benefits) and the supplementary section (including self-declared income such as self-employment, foreign income, property ownership/sale or in one’s capacity as a company director). Make sure you enter everything in the correct place.
For expenses, if the annual turnover for your business is under £85000, you can enter the total amount. You will need to itemise your expenses for higher turnovers and then enter a total figure at the end.
While you do not need to attach proof of expenses, keep complete records of all your expenses for the last five years if the HMRC wants to see them.
If you make a mistake anywhere, you have time until the Self Assessment deadline for the following year. So, for instance, for mistakes made during the 2019-2020 tax year filing, you can make changes until January 31, 2022.
Paying the Self Assessment tax bill
After you have filed your returns, you will get a bill for the final figure of your owed tax, known as the balancing payment. You will get this by post if you have filed on paper, and if you have filed online, you will get a tax calculation right after you click on Submit.
There are a few essential things to keep in mind here:
- Payment on account — These are advance payments towards your next tax bill, due on January 31 and July 31 by midnight. If you are a freelancer, this applies to you. Each payment on account amounts to half of your previous year’s tax bill. If your final tax bill exceeds the payments on account, you need to pay the balance by January 31 of the following year. If the final tax bill is lower, the HMRC will send you a refund.
- Claiming a refund — If you have paid more tax than you owe, the HMRC will send you a P800 tax calculation detailing how you have overpaid and how much. You can request a P800 by calling the HMRC. If you claim the refund online, you will receive the amount in five working days. Otherwise, you will automatically get a cheque by post within 14 days.
- Change in the circumstances — If you have unexpectedly lost a client or have chosen to scale back your operations, you can request the HMRC for a reduction in payments on account. However, this should not be used as a way to put off your tax bill. If you are caught underpaying, you will be fined. In addition, remember that if your tax due is less than £3,000 and you already pay tax through PAYE, you can settle the balance in instalments over 12 months.
What is the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme?
You need to include that on your tax return if you have received government support through SEISS grants during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first three grants will go under the self-employment section in the 2020-2021 tax return, and the last two will go in the 2021-2022 tax return. You need to pay income tax and national insurance contributions on all of them.
Educate yourself on Self Assessments; rely on accountants.
Tip #4 – Know What Costs to Cut
Most business owners don’t know where to start. If you’re one of them, it’s ideal to start by performing an internal audit of your finances.
Identify where all the money comes and goes and decide what you can or can’t cut.
Tip #5 – Get Better Deals
We live in a digital day and age where accountants are eager to show their clients the benefits of working digitally, helping individuals and businesses be more organised and successful with smart accounting.
On the other hand, clients like yourself can keep an eye on the practice’s social media or subscribe to their newsletter to follow tips to keep up with the latest industry changes and accounting hacks they can implement for themselves.
As a client, here are three areas to keep an eye out on:
Many accountants send more emails to their clients around the tax deadline. They talk about the changes in the legislation, explain how this is affecting the way you work, and even invite you to a free consultation.
2. Social media
Today, every business has found a place for itself on social media — even though not necessarily on all platforms. If you are looking to get access to real-time information, check out the reasonably active practices on social media (such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook). Follow and engage with them and also invite your network if their content is worthwhile.
3. Online workshops and webinars
Since the offline conferences were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, much precedence is being given to webinars. If you want your business to be future-ready, watch out for interesting webinars or online workshops that can teach you the latest practices to grow business, tax filing hacks, MTD fundamentals courses, and so on.