Home > Self Assessment > Top 10 Self Assessment Tips

Top 10 Self Assessment Tips

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 18 Oct 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Self Assessment Tax Payer Payment Tax

Self Assessment taxpayers bear a significant responsibility. While those who pay all their tax through PAYE have the luxury of leaving their tax affairs to someone else, Self Assessment taxpayers have to do the work themselves.

Completing a Self Assessment tax return is something to which few people look forward – but it is not necessarily a task that needs to be particularly arduous. With a bit of forward planning you can ease the burden quite significantly.

Here are some top tips to make Self Assessment easier.

1. Keep records

Record-keeping is absolutely vital. Apart from your legal obligation to keep hold of certain bits of paperwork, you can’t hope to complete your Self Assessment unless you have all the relevant receipts, invoices and statements. Make sure that you keep these organised.

2. Do it as you go

Rather than leaving it until the last minute, why not do your bookkeeping as you go? By taking an hour out of your day once a week or even once a month, you can ensure that you keep on top of things – and that you don’t have to spend days on end doing it in January.

3. Invest in bookkeeping software

You can make this task significantly easier by using bookkeeping software. This will help you to keep your records organised – and, if the software is any good, will provide you with the numbers you need to fill in your Self Assessment with the click of a mouse. There is a range of bookkeeping packages on offer, some of which are free and the majority of which are very affordable.

4. Understand deductions

It is imperative that you understand what you can offset against your income. For example, if you work from home you may be able to claim for a portion of things like rent and utilities. Many people overpay their tax by a significant amount, simply because they don’t know what they can offset. More information on allowable expenses is available elsewhere on this site.

5. Do it early

Every long-term Self Assessment taxpayer is familiar with the last minute rush to get their return in before the deadline. But the problem with this, aside from the stress, is that you don’t know how much you will owe until it is due. By doing your tax return early you can give yourself longer to plan financially – and make the eventual bill easier to shoulder.

6. Do it online…

HMRC is gradually moving all of its filing services online, and phasing out paper forms. There are several very good reasons why you might choose to do your Self Assessment online – not the least of which is that you get more time. In addition, if you use the online process your tax liability will be calculated for you, eliminating the potential for mistakes on your part.

7.…but remember registration

If you are doing your Self Assessment online for the first time, it is vital that you remember you will need to register in advance. You will need a Government Gateway username and password in order to use the service, and this can take around a week to arrive. Make sure that you factor this in if you want to meet the deadline.

8. Remember extra pages

If you choose to complete your Self Assessment tax return on paper, you should remember that you may need to request extra pages. You will need to do this if, for example, you are a trustee. The need for extra pages is common, so you should check with HMRC in advance if you are unsure.

9. Remember student loans

If you are paying off a student loan, remember that this will be added to your Self Assessment tax bill. It is all too easy to forget to factor this in – only to be presented with a bill much higher than you had anticipated. Full time and part-time student who start their course after 1st September 2012 begin paying back their student loan once they earn more than £21,000 per year. Courses starting prior to September 2012 start repayments when earning in excess of £15,000. Repayments are calculated at 9 per cent of earnings over the relevant threshold. Remember that this doesn’t mean you’ll pay 9 per cent of your total earnings – just the bit above the threshold.

10. Understand the payment on account

Finally, it is vital that you understand the payment on account system. If your total tax bill if more than £1,000, you will need to make two payments on account – one on 31 January and another on 31 July. Each of these payments will normally be 50 per cent of your tax bill for the previous year. The intention is to spread the bill across two different payments, making it easier to settle. But again, you should remember to factor this in if you want to avoid a potentially nasty surprise.

If you are in any doubt about your tax responsibilities, you should seek independent advice.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi how do I claim the cost of a new car if I am self employed
andy - 18-Oct-14 @ 8:31 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kenthen
    Re: What Does Road Tax Pay For?
    I often wondered if it's legal for the council to close public roads for pedestrian usage unless it's for repair or some other road…
    11 August 2019
  • Oky
    Re: How Will My Second Job Be Taxed?
    Hi if I work for 2 agency. One job is 40 hour per week and other is 12 or 20 hours per week, only for one week it will be.…
    7 August 2019
  • Jo-jo
    Re: How Will My Second Job Be Taxed?
    I have main job at 24 hours a week and earn £198 a week if I take on a 2nd job at 10 hours a week at £9.04 an hour how much…
    3 August 2019
  • Jules
    Re: Should I be Paid Mileage Allowance?
    Im a carework i dont get paid any mileage i only get 25p per visit but my calls are 5 & 6 miles apart how do i claim some…
    24 July 2019
  • San
    Re: What is My Tax Code?
    Hello I have a first job and I am earning 290 a week and have been charged 60 for that first wage and I have started a second job for weekend…
    18 July 2019
  • MH829567
    Re: What Does Road Tax Pay For?
    Road Tax doesn't pay for anything cos it don't exist. Vehicle Excise Duty or CAR tax pays for the environmental effects of the…
    9 July 2019
  • Sandra
    Re: Payment of Pensions
    I want my pension to be paid weekly not monthly can this be changed ?
    5 July 2019
  • Sandra
    Re: Payment of Pensions
    I want my pension to change from monthly to weekly can thus happen?
    5 July 2019
  • vic
    Re: How Will My Second Job Be Taxed?
    my son is at uni and works on a sat for 8 hrs, he has just started a full time summer job until uni goes back and has been…
    4 July 2019
  • Jane
    Re: How Will My Second Job Be Taxed?
    Hi, I've recently been offered 2 part time positions (very similar roles) and am wondering if I could accept both offers? In…
    4 July 2019