By Lynne Gowers on 10th January 2019

5 tips for an easier self-assessment

With Christmas and New Year out of the way and everyone getting back to normality, if you haven’t already done your 2017-18 self-assessment tax return, make sure it’s on your New Year to-do list, as there are just a couple of weeks left to submit it.

Don’t be late to the party

It’s easy to let the self-assessment deadline of midnight on 31st January creep up on you and a huge number of people still leave it to the last minute. Last year HMRC received a staggering 758,707 returns on deadline day with 30,348 filed in the final hour before the midnight cutoff point.

However, almost 750,000 taxpayers were late to submit their online return. They faced an immediate £100 penalty with a further £10 added for every day after that up to 90 days, plus interest.

Interestingly, in November it emerged that the £100 immediate fine is to be replaced by a points system, like how speeding penalties work on a driving-licence. The change is part of HMRC’s drive to concentrate on serious tax avoidance rather than punishing simple errors.

This year, HMRC showed it has sense of humour by publishing stats of those who chose to combine tax with their turkey – 2616 filed their online return on Christmas Day and a further 8465 on Boxing Day!

If you are yet to complete your self-assessment, here are our top 5 tips for making the process as quick and painless as possible:

1. Make sure you can log in

You (or your accountant) won’t be able to submit your tax return online unless you have registered with HMRC and have a login for the Government Gateway. You will also need your Unique Tax Reference (UTR). This is a 10-digit number which will be on your self-assessment paperwork from HMRC.
What to do if you can’t find your UTR.

2. Get your paperwork together

Before you start, make sure you have all the paperwork you need to hand. This includes records of all your personal and business income and expenditure including a P60 or P45, P11D, invoices, dividend vouchers, bank statements and receipts. All this will be hard to round up if you leave it to 11.30pm on 31st January!

3. Check and double check

Now to work your way through the online form. Make sure you complete every section correctly and allow time to thoroughly check every part of your self assessment before you hit submit. Even a simple mistake, such as not ticking the box at the end to confirm everything is correct, could result in your return being rejected and HMRC imposing a penalty.

4. Learn from your mistakes

If you have spent hours tracking down paperwork or worrying how you are going to pay your tax bill, take steps now to avoid the same headaches next year. Get organised! Keep your financial records up to date – you can do it on paper, digitally or using specialist accounting software – like the Boox app.
Put bank statements, bills and important forms in a file so you can locate them easily. You may also find it useful to open a specific savings account and regularly deposit a portion of your income to cover your tax bill.

5. Cut out the stress altogether with Boox

It’s a busy time of year for everyone and it can be tempting to put self-assessment to the back of your mind. If you just don’t have the time, or the thought of it is filling you with dread, our dedicated tax team will help you file on time and avoid making costly errors.

Beat the rush
We’ll be completing hundreds of self-assessments, both on behalf of our clients and on an adhoc basis, between now and 31st January.

Find out more about our self-assessment tax return service

This article was originally published on 2nd January 2018 and updated on 10th December 2019.

Written by Lynne Gowers
Disclaimer Although we attempt to ensure that the Information contained in this publication is accurate and up-to-date at the date of publication it may not be comprehensive, we accept no liability for the results of any action taken on the basis of the information they contain and any implied warranties, including but not limited to the implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement and accuracy are excluded to the extent that they may be excluded as a matter of law.

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