THE race is on to get your tax return in on time.
This week, millions of Brits will be sweating over old receipts and invoices to get their self- assessment sorted by Friday’s deadline.
Last year, more than 700,000 did not pass the finishing post in time – and 30,000 frantically filled out the form the hour before midnight.
So to help, here is our guide to getting through the assault course of self-assessment.
1. GET READY
If during the last tax year you earned more than £2,500 in untaxed income, including rent from a buy-to-let property or returns on savings and investments, you will need to register for self-assessment.
You must also do so if you are self-employed and earned more than £1,000, you are a partner in a business partnership, or if you or your partner received child benefit and one of you earns more than £50,000.
Note you can make up to £7,500 from renting out a room in your own house without paying income tax.
Register for self-assessment on the HMRC website and you will be sent a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) through the post.
2. GET SET
Gather all of the expenses and documents relating to your income. Having these to hand will help you race through the process.
Once you have your UTR sign in to your online account and you are ready to go.
The first section is an easy sprint. There are some basic questions about your circumstances you can click through easily.
Now comes the tricky part. Depending on your answers in the first section, you will be asked for details of income.
This will include money you earn from things such as your employments, self-employments, business partnerships, savings, investments, and any sales of assets that you might need to pay tax on.
That is so they can calculate how much tax you need to pay.
They will also want to know about any pension and charity contributions you made in the 2018-19 tax year.
There are lots of help-sheets if you are not sure of anything – just click on the little question marks.
5. TAKE A PITSTOP
There is no need to complete it all in one go. The online form allows you to save your work at various stages and take a break.
6. GET A BOOST
If you work from home or are self-employed, you can offset necessary business expenses such as travel, phone and mileage costs.
You might be able to offset purchase and repair costs of work tools, specialist uniform expenses and professional membership fees.
Higher rate and additional rate taxpayers can claim extra tax relief on their pension contributions. And married couples where one person earned less than £11,850 can get a rebate of up to £238 by transferring part of their tax-free allowance to the higher-earning partner.
7. NO CHEATING
Don’t be like the carpenter who tried to claim £900 for a 55in TV and sound bar to help him “price jobs”, or the person who claimed the cost of pet food for their Shih Tzu “guard dog”.
HMRC will only approve legitimate expenses.
Cross the line in good time to avoid a £100 fine. If you are late, like 700,000 people last year, don’t make up a lame excuse.
Previous explanations have included a self-employed builder too overwrought by the death of his goldfish and a hairdresser who said: “My husband told me the deadline was March 31. I believed him.”
Once you have submitted your self-assessment tax return, you will find out how much tax and, if self-employed, the National Insurance contribution you will need to pay.
This is due by January 31.
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