Date: Tuesday 12th January, 2016
January 31st is an important date on the calendar for many thousands of self-employed Britons as it’s the deadline for completing online Self-Assessment tax returns.
Anyone who works for themself or runs their own company can expect to be hit with a fine if they fail to submit their online returns in time or if they otherwise bungle the process of informing HMRC of their self-employed income in the most recent tax year.
So, with the end of January approaching, here’s a look at some of the most obvious mistakes to avoid when it comes to completing that all important tax return process.
1 – Overlooking relevant sections
HMRC has designed its Self-Assessment returns systems so that they are easy to understand and can be used by anyone who generates income through self-employment in the UK. It is important though to make sure you identify all the aspects of the various online forms that relate to your activities and complete them as necessary.
2 – Getting your details wrong
There are ways of correcting errors in Self-Assessment tax returns even after they’ve been sent and it’s understood that honest mistakes can easily be made when forms are being filled out. However, you can save yourself any problems down the line by making sure all your details - particularly your National Insurance number and your unique taxpayer reference numbers - are correct in the first instance.
3 – Getting your sums wrong
Regardless of how strong or otherwise you are at maths, it is generally a good idea to check and then double check the sums included in your tax returns. It is easy to make mistakes and to have decimal points in the wrong place, for example, but always important to cut these kinds of errors out if you can.
4 – Claiming expenses in error
HMRC has published clear and extensive guidelines on the subject of what should and shouldn’t be counted as business expenses when it comes to self-employed people operating in the UK. Mistakes in this context can be taken as an effort to mislead and could result in fines if HMRC investigates the details. So it’s worth consulting with an expert on the subject if you’re unsure on anything before you enter your numbers and send off your return online.
5 – Failing to declare extra income
For obvious reasons, HMRC is on the lookout for instances of income going deliberately undeclared when it comes to Self-Assessment tax returns. Some people’s income patterns are more complex than others’ but there are really no excuses for failing to include details on all sources of income in the context of these returns.
Getting Self-Assessment tax returns in on time and in full can be a challenge for self-employed people and business operators around the UK, especially for those who’ve never had to carry out the process before. But doing so is an unavoidable part of life for thousands of us and it is generally a process that is better tackled sooner rather than later, or at least not at the very last minute as the January 31st deadline looms.
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