Completing your self-assessment tax return is a daunting task for many of the 10 million people that are required to do so. If you are one of them, and if you haven’t yet submitted it, you’re running out of time! But there’s no need to panic, yet!
Who needs to submit a tax return? Generally speaking if your income is more than £100,00 or if you are self-employed, have un-taxed income from property, savings or investments, or if you made profits from selling shares or a second home, you’ll need to complete a self-assessment. If you fall into one of the following categories it is likely you will need to file a return. Contact HMRC if you are unsure:
- You’re self-employed.
- You’re a partner in a business partnership.
- You’re a company director.
- Your annual income is £100,000 or more.
- You have income from property.
- You have income from savings or investments that has been taxed and was £10,000 or more before you paid tax on it.
- You have income from savings or investments that hasn’t been taxed and is £2,500 or more (bank account interest is usually taxed automatically).
- You need to claim expenses or reliefs.
- You or your partner receives child benefit and your income is more than £50,000.
- You get income from overseas.
- You have income from trusts, settlements or estates.
- You have capital gains tax to pay.
- You’ve lived or worked abroad or don’t live in the UK permanently.
- You’re a trustee.
- You receive a state pension and it was more than your personal allowance and was your only source of income – unless you started getting your pension on or after 6 April 2016.
To complete your return online, you need to be registered with Government Gateway or Gov.uk Verify (you should be if you’ve filed a return previously). This is separate to registering for self-assessment itself, which you should have done by 5 October. You can sign in on the Gov.uk website to file your return.
You will need to compile your financial records ahead of making the return. If you are employed get your P60 and P11D. If you are self-employed you will need a full record of your accounts and expenses. You will also need details of your savings and investments along with all the interest you have received.
How to reduce your bill. The main way to reduce your tax liability is by claiming expenses. If you work from home, you should be able to claim a portion of your heating, electricity, council tax, internet and telephone use. You may also be able to claim a portion of your mortgage or rent.
If you are self-employed you may also be able to claim for equipment (eg computers) and vehicle expenses such as petrol and breakdown cover.
If you use your home in a minimal way to conduct your extra business, such as writing up your business records, HMRC will accept a £2-per-week office deduction.
You can also claim against annual membership of the National Trust, English Heritage and London Zoo As these count as a donation to charity. Even if you ticked the gift aid box, high-rate taxpayers can reclaim the rest of the tax they have paid on their donation.
Need more help? HMRC’s self-assessment helpline is 0300 200 3310 and is open until 8pm Monday-Friday (4pm Saturday, closed Sunday). Make sure you have your national insurance number at hand and be prepared to wait.
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