Self Assessment Return Checklist and Tips
Last year, 2012, approximately half a million people left it till the 31st of January to complete their online Self Assessment form, with nearly 40,000 of those submitting theirs between 4pm and 5pm. If you are one of those last minute submitter's, here is a useful check list and some tips that we at Listentotaxman have come across.
- Firstly, if you do not have exact figures for required totals such as interest earned on your savings, put in reasonable estimates for now. You can tell HMRC on your return that the figure is an estimate and go back in as soon as possible with an accurate figure. Do make sure to use as accurate an estimate as possible.
- If you are missing documents such as your P60, bank interest certificate, etc., use your most recent statements and wage slips to get the relevant information. In most cases these will be dated from March. If you can not find March's wage slips, statements etc., use the telephone to contact your bank, employer, fund managers and so on to get the information.
- Don't forget to include interest on savings and dividends (whether cash or reinvested) on your return.
- Make sure to check your previous Self Assessment returns for losses that can be offset against any gains/ income this year. HMRC have information here on claiming losses against income for self employed.
- Do not round up your figures. HMRC have implied that rounding up figures is a sign that people have not been detailed in maintaining their accounts and could attract further attention from HMRC.
- Take the time to go through your expenses, both personal (eg. pension contributions, charitable donations, etc.) and business. Claiming for your allowable expenses will reduce your tax bill. For information on allowable business expenses for those self employed, see here.
- If you have gone over your allowable pension contribution you may be able to carry forward unused allowances from previous years, see more here.
- Make sure to complete a separate supplementary page for each individual employment, if you have more than one.
- Use the right figures, ie. do not enter a net figure where a gross is required, or vice versa.
- Double, no, triple check that you have completed all relevant sections, as this common mistake is one of the main reasons HMRC will reject a return. Also make sure that any necessary supplementary pages of the return are completed.
- Consider if Capital Gains applies to you this year, eg. have you sold a property? Or have you incurred a loss? If so you need to fill out the relevant section.
- Remember that the 31st January deadline is for the payment of taxes owing as well as the return of the form. You need to pay any tax owing, and complete your return on time, to avoid fines. However, if for some reason, you cannot pay the tax by the 31st January, at least make the return as the fines for not making the return on time can be very costly, even if no tax is owing.
- Do not write something like "information to follow" where a figure should be. (This is more relevant for written returns, as these mistakes cause many forms to be rejected).
- In no part of the return should you write text in a box that should contain figures/ numbers.
- Also, please make sure to accurately date and sign the form.
For more information on fines for failing to make your return on time and pay your tax, see our article on Penalties & Fines for Late Tax Returns & Payment.
HMRC have a demo on how to complete your return here and have a written guide on completing your return here.
There are some tips on inputting information into certain fields that may cause difficulty on the form in this article in The Telegraph.
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Published on 31/01/2013 © Listentotaxman.