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How to nail your tax return

Self Assessment tax returns don’t have to be daunting – we’ve put some tips together to help you nail your tax return.

3 min read

HMRC is giving you more time to file your tax return. You now have until 28 February to submit your Self Assessment before you incur any late penalties.

To help make sure you're set up for success we’ve put some tips together to help you nail your Self Assessment tax return. 

Here's an overview of what's in the blog: 

  • Check if you need to submit a return 

  • Register for your Self Assessment tax return

  • Make sure you have all your documents for your tax return 

  • Submit your return online 

  • Preparing for next year’s tax return

Make sure you register for Self Assessment early

If you’ve started a new business or are earning money from a side hustle, the first thing you’ll need to do is check on HMRC’s website to see if you’re required to submit a return. If you need to register for the first time, you’ll need to set up a Government Gateway account.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be sent your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number.  HMRC says it should be with you within 10 days by post (21 if you’re abroad), so registering early is important.

Once you’ve signed up, you don’t need to register again, just make sure you remember your login details! 

Collect all the documents you need 

Before you start your tax return, there is some information you’ll need to have to hand. If you have all the paperwork ready ahead of time, it should make the process a lot smoother. 

You’ll need: 

  • Your ten-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)

  • Your Government Gateway ID and password 

  • The activation code sent to you in the post after you registered – you’ll need this for your first Self Assessment only

  • Your National Insurance number – you can find this on a P60 or payslip

  • Details of income from your business including any invoices you have sent and the records of any expenses you can claim

  • Any contributions to charity or pensions that might be eligible for tax relief

  • Your P60 if you’ve already paid tax through another job. Your employer might also send you a P11D if you received any benefits on top of your salary

  • Details of any other taxable income including bank interest (you can get interest certificates from your bank), rental income, dividends received and pension income

Submit your return online

There are two ways you can submit your Self Assessment tax return. If you file online with HMRC, you need to log in to your Government Gateway account and you will find out the tax you owe quickly when you submit your return. 

You can also submit a paper return by post but remember that the deadline for paper returns was 31 October 2021! 

Find time to focus 

Finally, make sure you set aside time well ahead of the deadline without any distractions to focus and complete your return accurately. It’s less stressful and you are less likely to make mistakes if you have plenty of time.  

Preparing for next year’s tax return

We also have a couple of top tips for making your return easier throughout the year. 

Use a separate bank account for your business 

Opening a separate business account where you can get paid by your customers and spend money on business supplies will make it much easier at the end of the year to identify the income and expenses specific to your business. Some accounts also allow you to store your receipts and invoices digitally, making it easy to find them when you complete your tax return at the end of the year. 

Ask for help if you need it

To make sure you don’t pay too much tax, make sure you know what allowances you can use and what you can claim as expenses. HMRC has lots of online articles which will help you understand the rules which apply to you and your business. 

If you need more support, you can also get help from an accountant. Finding a good accountant will help avoid mistakes and they may find opportunities for you to save money on your tax return. Finding someone early in the year is helpful because most businesses complete their tax return at the same time so accountants can get very busy.  

The Self Assessment process might look daunting but with some preparation, organisation and a bit of help, you can nail your tax return every year! 

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