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Dieting, Exercise and Tax Returns – the perennial January cocktail

As the title suggests, this time of year means different things to different people. For the self-employed, January means tax return deadline day, which, to be precise, is the 31st of January. It’s a bit of an administrative chore, and at the end of it, you will typically have to hand over a significant amount of cash. It’s no surprise then that for many it’s not exactly something to look forward to (not unlike dieting and exercise) but if you’ve got your records in order, it really shouldn’t be too arduous, even if you are doing yourself.

The deadline for paper returns has been and gone (it was 31st October).  The 31st of January deadline is for online returns. HMRC prefers the online system, as do most taxpayers, and Making Tax Digital will soon mean records have to be kept digitally, and tax information reported on a quarterly basis - but we’re not quite there yet.

This is the online tax return deadline for the year ending the previous April. So in this case, April 2017 - April 2018 is the period we are concerned with. Here’s a checklist of what you need to complete the self-assessment form:

  • your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) - if you don’t have one you will need to contact HMRC;
  • your National Insurance number;
  • your P60 or P45 (if you have one relating to the tax year in question);
  • details of your income from the tax year, including any dividends and interest payments received;
  • records of any expenses relating to your business;
  • any contributions to charity or pensions which might be eligible for tax relief.

There are a few helpful articles online to help you. Perhaps the best place to start is with the gov.uk pages on self-assessment

If it all seems too daunting, you can always ask an accountant to do it for you - many self-employed people do. But remember, this is their busiest time of year, so get in early and make sure they have everything they will need from you to complete the return (see above checklist). That should leave you with more spare time to spend on your business, or for those other January pursuits - dieting and exercise. Suddenly the tax return doesn’t seem so bad after all…

Meet the author

Andy Chamberlain

Deputy Director of Policy and External Affairs