We can be easily surprised in the holiday season. In fact, it’s part of the fun – but finding yourself ill-prepared for HMRC and the Self Assessment January tax deadline is not. So what’s the best move if you’re in this situation? How do you rectify your tax behaviour now, before a penalty is issued?
Don’t worry. If you’re reading this weeks or days away from the last Self Assessment submission date, here’s how to pick up the pace.
Check your paperwork
The most immediate concern is whether you have the right documents. Receipts, invoices and bank statements all need to be in line. This counts for overseas income and Capital Gains Tax too. Search for the papers you don’t have; check them by date, and file them in grouped folders. You’ll then need to input the details and follow the correct steps (dedicated software can make this process a lot smoother) to attach the evidence.
Make sure the figures all add up. HMRC may accept some inaccuracies as long as you can demonstrate reasonable care. But, generally, you should be as thorough as possible – and organisation is key.
Find your UTR
Without a relevant Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), you won’t be sanctioned under particular rules for your income. If you have lost the 10-digit number, there’s a Self Assessment helpline to call, although you can always see it on your digital tax account.
Limited companies can request their UTR online. All you must do is quote the ID and name as registered with Companies House. A copy of your UTR will be sent by post to your corporate address.
Research your applicable codes and expenses
Too many taxpayers are in the dark regarding what they can claim each year. From stationery to mileage, leases and hotel stays, you’re probably liable for more than you realise, depending on the nature of your work.
It’s certainly worth looking at the expense claims that lie with your profession or corporate capacity. Don’t forget about income from property: landlords have their own forms to fill out, just like the SA800 if you’re in a business partnership. The right tax codes have to be aligned with your expenses so that HMRC knows the claim is valid for the investments you’ve made.
Find Self Assessment software
Automation can be used to assist everything we’ve outlined above. Whereas a manual Self Assessment may take several hours to perfect, it’s far easier to use a piece of modern tax software. HMRC’s web portal is fairly unwieldy. With the advent of Making Tax Digital (the first phase of which is due from April 2019), there are thankfully a number of other options for non-PAYE earners.
These tools let you complete a Self Assessment in minutes. From receipt tracking to real-time tax updates, they compile all your relevant data into one platform. It’s often a mobile solution, so you can also complete the tax return anywhere. Built-in calculators add and subtract what’s necessary, leaving your submission error-free.
Time may be short, and there’s a long list of things to do for a quick Self Assessment turnaround. But if you take this advice to heart, and stay conscious of the latest developments in UK tax procedure, you may just prevent penalties for any lateness or disorganised duties.