Tips for preparing your Self Assessment tax return

Self-assessment tax returns can be intimidating for new filers. However, with adequate preparation, the process can become less daunting. This article provides recommendations for preparing and filing your self-assessment tax return.

What is Self-Assessment Tax?

It refers to a taxation system where individuals and businesses compute their own tax liability and report it to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) annually. This system requires taxpayers to calculate their tax obligation based on their income from various sources, such as self-employment, employment, rental income, and investments.

Who Needs to File a Self-Assessment Tax Return?

You may be required to file a self-assessment return if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • Self-employed, a sole trader, or a partner in a business
  • Company director or non-resident landlord
  • Income from rental property
  • Savings or investment income above a specific level
  • Income from overseas
  • Sold or given away assets such as property or shares, and made a profit

What Information Do You Need to File Your Self-Assessment Return?

To file your self-assessment tax return, you will require the following information:

  • Your National Insurance number.
  • Specifics of your income such as employment income, self-employment income, and rental income.
  • Information on any expenses you can claim tax relief on.
  • Information about any other income you have received, such as dividends or savings interest.
  • Details of any pension contributions you have made.
  • Information about any charitable donations you have made.
  • Your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number.
  • Your tax return from the previous year (if applicable).

Record-Keeping Tips for Tax Return

When preparing your self-assessment tax return, accurate record-keeping is crucial. The following are some tips to help you keep accurate records:

  • Maintain receipts for all business expenses, including travel, accommodation, and equipment.
  • Maintain records of all invoices and payments received and made.
  • Keep bank statements and credit card statements.
  • If you use your vehicle for business purposes, keep a mileage log.
  • Maintain records of all sales and purchases if you are self-employed.
  • Keep copies of all correspondence with HMRC.

Understanding Tax Deadlines

To avoid penalties for late filing, it is important to comprehend tax deadlines. The deadline for filing your self-assessment tax return online is 31 January following the end of the tax year. For instance, the deadline for filing your 2021-22 tax return is 31 January 2023. You can read more about the important tax year dates in our article here.

Tips for Filling Out Your Self-Assessment

Although filling out your self-assessment can be time-consuming, it can be less daunting with preparation. Here are some tips to help you fill out your tax return:

  • Use HMRC’s online self-assessment tax return service.
  • Use the correct tax year for your return.
  • Ensure all figures are double-checked for accuracy.
  • Include all sources of income.
  • Complete all sections of the tax return, even if you have no income to report.
  • Seek professional help if you are uncertain about any aspect of your tax return.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Your Self-Assessment

To prevent penalties or incorrect tax calculations, it’s critical to avoid common mistakes when filing your self-assessment. The following are common mistakes to avoid:

  • Neglecting to incorporate all income sources, 
  • Neglecting to disclose all eligible expenses, 
  • Completing the wrong segment of the tax return, 
  • Providing incorrect figures or calculations,
  • Failing to submit your tax return on time 

How to Get Help with Your Tax Return

If you require assistance with your self-assessment tax return, there are several options available to you. 

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