How to Keep on Top of Your Self-Assessment Tax Return

Last Updated: 

November 20, 2023

Doing your self-assessment tax return can feel like a daunting task. With deadlines to meet and calculations to do, it's easy to put it off. But staying on top of your tax return will make the process smoother and less stressful. Here are five tips to help you keep on top of your self assessment.

Key Takeaways on Monitoring Self-assessment Tax Return

  • Start Early: Resist the temptation to procrastinate until the last minute. Begin preparing as early as possible, gather income information promptly, and jot down expenses throughout the year. Setting aside regular time each week for your tax-related tasks will help you stay on track.
  • Organise Your Records: Create a dedicated folder or digital space to keep all tax-related documents in one place. Include pay slips, bank statements, invoices, receipts, and any other relevant paperwork. This organisation will streamline the process when it's time to fill in your return.
  • Understand Allowable Claims: Maximise your tax relief by understanding and claiming every allowable expense and deduction. Familiarise yourself with guidelines on GOV.UK based on your circumstances. Whether you're self-employed or an employee, knowing what you can claim for will help reduce your tax bill.
  • Seek Professional Help: If your tax situation is complex or you find self-assessment challenging, consider seeking help from a professional accountant. They can handle the process on your behalf or provide guidance, ensuring accuracy and potentially identifying additional ways to save on taxes.
  • Meet Deadlines: Missing deadlines can result in automatic penalties. Aim to file your online return by 31 January or paper returns by 31 October. Even if you can't pay the full tax bill on time, filing by the deadline avoids additional penalties, and you can discuss payment plans with HMRC.
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1. Don't Leave It Until the Last Minute

It may be tempting to put off your tax return until near the deadline on 31 January. But leaving it so late increases your chances of making mistakes and missing out on opportunities to reduce your tax bill.  

Instead, start preparing as early as you can. Gather all your income information as soon as you get it. Jot down expenses and allowable deductions throughout the year so you don't forget. Setting aside regular time, such as an hour a week, will help you stay on track without being overwhelmed.

Aim to have your return filed by mid-December if possible. This gives time for any final adjustments and to avoid last-minute delays.

2. Get Organised

Having all your information and records organised will make the process quicker and simpler. Create a folder or digital space to keep everything relating to your tax return in one place.

Include pay slips, bank statements, dividend vouchers, invoices and receipts for expenses, car mileage logs, rental income paperwork and any other tax-related documents. Having them readily to hand will help when it comes to filling in your return.

3. Understand What You Can Claim

One of the best ways to maximise your tax relief is to claim for every allowable expense and deduction. But it helps to understand exactly what you can claim for and have the paperwork to back it up.

Check out the guidelines on GOV.UK for your particular circumstances. For example, self-employed people can claim reasonable spending on travel, office costs, training courses and more. Employees may claim tax relief on professional fees or subscriptions, work uniforms and some home office expenses.

4. Get Professional Help if Needed

If your tax affairs have become complex or you're finding self assessment an uphill battle, get help from a professional. An accountant can take the burden off your shoulders and ensure your tax returns are done properly.

Look for an accountant in Liverpool who specialises in self assessment and tax returns. Discuss your situation at a free initial consultation. They can then handle your self assessment on your behalf if you want to outsource it entirely. Alternatively, they can provide advice and guidance so you can continue completing your own returns with confidence.

5. Don't Miss the Deadline

The deadline for online returns is 31 January. Paper returns must be in by 31 October. Don't risk being hit with automatic penalties by missing these dates.

Even if you can't pay your tax bill in full, make sure to file on time to avoid a penalty. You can then discuss payment plans with HMRC. Interest will be charged on outstanding amounts.

Staying on top of your self assessment and filing by the deadlines takes some effort. But being organised, prepared, and seeking help when needed will make the process as smooth as possible. The peace of mind of having your tax return properly dealt with is worth it.

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