3 really useful tips for filling in your self assessment tax return

Want to save yourself a £100 fine and further penalties by completing your self assessment tax return before the January 31st deadline? We’ve scoured the internet to collate the three essential things you can do now to ease the burden of filing and submit your return in good time. Read on to avoid a filing nightmare and  turn your self assessment tax task into a quick-click affair.

  1. Go online to avoid a fine
    Sadly, you’ve missed the deadline for filing a paper return. This was October 31st so now you’re only option is to create an online account. You have two choices: the old way and the new way.

The Old Way

The old way is to use the Government Gateway. You’ve probably heard of it already. Registering this way can take days because you have to wait for the post to get your access code. But if you’re already registered with Government Gateway and have access to the Self Assessment service, this may be a good route for you.

The New Way

The new, straightforward, quick way to access Self Assessment (and other government services) is to use GOV.UK Verify together with a certified identity provider like SecureIdentity. It takes 10 to 15 minutes. After registration with SecureIdentity you can begin filling in your self assessment tax return immediately.

You’ll need to choose a certified company to verify your identity at GOV.UK Verify. Have your  identity documents to hand (ie: your passport, driving licence and bank statements) and choose SecureIdentity when you’re asked to choose a certified company to verify your identity. There’s no difficult-to-remember passwords and you’re not stuck waiting for something in the post.

Once you’re verified you can use your SecureIdentity to access other online government services too. Eventually everyone will be required to create an online identity to access government services at GOV.UK so by getting one now you’re saving yourself time later. The Government Gateway will eventually become obsolete

  1. Paper preparation eases the declaration
    Another thing you can do to de-stress the whole process is gathering all the relevant documents in advance. Here’s a list of some of the things you’ll need:
  • P60 – if you’re employed this will have all of your end of year figures.
  • P11D or P9D – if your employer has given you extra benefits in addition to your salary, or you have expenses, they must all be declared using these documents.
  • P45 – if you changed jobs during the tax year, your previous employer would have issued this.
  • payslips – to calculate your earnings and check figures against your P60 or P45.
  • receipts – for all the expenses you are claiming for example, business related travel. But be sure that your expenses are HMRC approved.
  • bank statements of your savings accounts – you’ll need them to calculate the interest you earned after being taxed which is you net interest. Also do remember that your ISA income does not need to be declared, it’s tax free.
  • dividends statements – to calculate income received from stocks and/or shares.
  • statements for pension income – to add to your income.

But what if you’ve lost one of the above bits of paper? Here’s what you can do:

  • P60 – you can get a replacement from your employer which will be marked duplicate. Your employer is obliged to keep copies of your P60 for at least the last three years.
  • P11D – again your employer should be able to provide you with a copy or else you can contact the HMRC for a copy.
  • P45 – you can not get a replacement but your new employer may be able to provide you with a ‘Starter Checklist’.
  • payslips – the first place to ask would be your employer but if you get really stuck you can use your bank statement to find the figures for earnings that you received.
  • receipts – this is a grey area, it’s not really advisable to estimate expenses as you really need evidence if you are audited.
  • statements from your bank, pension provider and share or stock organisation – contact the relevant organisation for a copies. But do remember that you may be charged for copies.
  1. Giving is receiving to charity
    Be sure to list all your charitable donations. This is particularly important if you are a higher rate taxpayer because you can reduce your tax bill by offsetting what you have donated. Charitable donations include GiftAid payments and annual memberships of charities such as English Heritage and the National Trust.

Don’t delay, get started today on your self assessment tax return!