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self assessment tax return

Get ahead and invest in an accountant

A challenging task for start-ups and new business owners in the first year is the annual and rather scary prospect – the self-assessment tax return so get ahead and invest in an accountant. It’s a challenge which often results in a mad rush to meet the taxman’s end of January deadline.

As daunting as the self-assessment process is, getting your return filed on time (and paying what you owe) is crucial for avoiding the late filing fees that are automatically incurred if you miss the January 31st deadline.

You’ll get an initial £100 fixed penalty, (applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time).

You’ll then have to pay more, or may have to face ‘enforcement action’, if you don’t send your tax return back after three months of the tax deadline passing.

Some self-assessment tips:

Clear the confusion

Not sure where to begin? Not sure what to include? Panicking because the 31stis looming? First things first! You need to regroup and address the concerns preventing you from starting your submission. Climb online and make your first port of call the HMRC self-assessment webpage, where there are guides and full explanations of what to do. They also have useful videos available, online chat sessions, and even a Twitter presence to handle queries.

Organise your paperwork

Rushing to find crucial bits of paperwork you’ve filed somewhere is a guaranteed recipe to add unnecessary panic. Before you get underway, organise all the relevant paperwork you are going to need for your submission. HMRC has a full list of what’s required. Also, make sure you have your ID and password for HMRC’s online self-assessment portal.

Split your submission into manageable chunks

Filing your tax return online has a serious benefit in that you can do it in sections. You don’t have to cram your submission into a few hours, so instead schedule different parts of your return for completion over the next few days. This is a more manageable, realistic method of getting your return done without getting overwhelmed, bored or rushed.

Check, double check and then check again

Splitting your time over the days before the deadline means you have the opportunity to thoroughly check your submission for mistakes. Spelling errors, incorrect figures and more can impact your return, so triple check. Remember, if you do make a mistake on your tax return and don’t notice it, you’ve normally got 12 months from the return submission deadline to correct it.

Don’t leave it to the very last minute

It is tempting to leave everything to the very last minute, but as soon as you get reminders from HMRC (and from your accountant) about the next tax deadline, try to get your return finalised in good time.