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You ask we answer: top 5 questions about self-assessment tax


You ask we answer: top 5 questions about self-assessment tax

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With the self-assessment tax deadline fast approaching, millions of Brits are in the throes of organising their tax return ahead of January 31.

According to the office for National Statistics, there are almost five million self-employed people across the UK, with each dealing with self-assessment tax.

Sending back your tax return is unavoidable. If you don’t submit it and pay what you owe, then you’ll be hit with a hefty penalty on top of your tax, which will only cause you added stress.

Understandably, the process and paperwork can be complicated and confusing. That’s why we thought we’d answer the top five most asked questions on this topic to help you out.

1. What is self-assessment tax

Self-assessment is the system that HMRC uses to collect people’s income tax.

Normally, this is done by taking the payments straight from your wage, pension or savings through a system called PAYE. However, those with other income – whether this be as a business or you as an individual – need to report it through a tax return.

You fill this in at the end of every tax year and submit it back to HMRC, either online or by post.  

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2. When should you do a self-assessment tax return?

Self-assessment tax comes with a number of deadlines.

If you needed to register for self-assessment, this was to be done by October 5, 2019, and if you chose to submit your return by post, you had until October 31, 2019. For online submissions, the deadline is midnight on January 31 – which means you still have a little time if you haven’t done this yet.

In terms of paying the tax you owe, this also needs to be done by midnight on January 31.

3. How do I submit a tax return?

The forms are generally the same whether you submit this online or by post. There are two sections that you’ll need to fill in; the SA100 and the supplementary pages.

If you’re doing this online, it’s simple, just fill in the parts that apply to you and it will calculate your bill for you. You then submit this where you will be given a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and the amount you’ll need to pay.

The process is essentially the same if you’re filling this out on paper, however, you will have to sit and go through the pages to find the ones that apply to you. To submit this you simply need to post it to their office.

If you’re tech-savvy, you can also use HMRC’s recommended commercial software to upload your documents.

4. What documents do you need for a tax return?

In order to make sure your return is accurate; you’ll need to have some documents to hand when filling it in.

You’ll need:

  • Your P60 to show what tax you’ve previously paid
  • A P45 (if you’ve stopped working for an employer within the tax year
  • If you get any ‘benefits in kind’ such as a company car etc., you’ll need your P11D
  • Any records you have of redundancy payments or taxed award schemes you’ve received.
  • bank statements
  • sales invoices
  • expense receipts/invoices
  • tax certificates for any investments.

It’s important to remember that your tax return must paint a full picture of your finances, so make sure you don’t leave anything out.

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5. How do I pay my tax?

Once you have submitted your return and HMRC have given you a figure, you must pay this before the deadline. There are various ways to pay what you owe and various processing times:

Same/next day

  • Online or telephone banking (Faster Payments
  • Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS)
  • Corporate credit card (online)
  • Debit card (online)
  • Through your bank or building society

Three working days

  • Direct debit – for those with one already set up
  • Cheque (by post)
  • BACS

Five working days

  • Direct debit – for those who haven’t set one up before

It’s important to note that you can no longer pay through the Post Office. If you are paying through the bank or building society, you’ll also need a paying-in slip from HMRC.

For those who prefer to pay their tax in regular instalments, you can do so through HMRC’s budget payment plan.

If you aren’t able to pay your tax bill on time, then it important to contact HMRC as soon as possible to try and avoid penalties. It may be possible for you to arrange a payment plan with them, but it is ultimately their decision whether they think you are able to pay immediately.

Don’t take the risk when it comes to your tax. Ignoring the bill or payment demands won’t make it go away, it will only make it worse and could result with bailiffs turning up at your door.

If you’re struggling with tax debt or finding yourself with money worries, contact us today, we’re here to help. You can call us on 0808 2234 102, speak to an agent on our online chat service or click the button below to arrange a callback.


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