Making your tax return less taxing

Hazel Burt


Making your tax return less taxing

For the majority of people, December heralds the beginning of the festive season, with Christmas parties, present wrapping and tree decorating to look forward to. Sadly, the mundane tasks of everyday life must still be taken care of, including getting prepared to submit your tax return.

It’s very tempting to push this aside when there are more exciting things to do but being prepared early, and not leaving it all until mid (or even end of!) January will give you peace of mind that you have all the relevant information looked out, you know exactly what your tax liability is and you can start the new year afresh. You can submit your tax return online at any time, and have until the 31st January to pay your liability – but it can take quite some time to finalise everything, so why not get organised now!

There are two options when it comes to completing your return:

1. Get a professional to do it for you
For a completely stress free experience simply use an accountant. Yes it will cost you, but navigating HMRC’s online return system can be complicated and stressful, and you may be missing out on tax reliefs that you aren’t aware of. Most of us don’t service our own cars or check our own teeth, so why not also get a trained professional to do this important task on your behalf as well? All you have to do is provide all the relevant information as soon as possible, plus your HMRC tax reference number and be on hand to answer any queries your accountant might have.

Of course we would say that wouldn’t we (being accountants!) but we honestly believe that leaving it to the experts is the best option for many reasons:

  • Saves you time and stress
  • Ensures you are claiming for the maximum amount of expenses
  • Ensures your return is definitely made by the deadline – otherwise you could be facing a penalty of £100
  • Removes any risk of errors in your return, which could result in an investigation and penalties from HMRC
  • Removes the stress of having to contact HMRC - in 2018/19 almost 20% of callers waited more than 10 minutes as against 15% for 2017/18.*

2. Do it yourself
As long as you have an online account with HMRC you can submit your own tax return - if you don’t have one it is important to register for one as soon as possible - https://www.gov.uk/log-in-file-self-assessment-tax-return

It saves a lot of time if you can dig out everything you think you will need beforehand, then have it all at your side for when you sit down at your computer to complete your return.

You will need information such as:

  • P60 showing your income and tax you have paid for the year
  • P11D or P9D which details any benefits or expenses
  • Bank statements/building society statements showing any interest
  • Details of any dividends from investments
  • If you are a landlord you will need details of your income, interest paid on any mortgages on properties you own, plus receipts for any costs relating to the properties during the tax year
  • If you are self-employed and work from home, you can claim expenses such as a proportion of energy, stationery and travel costs against your self-employed income as well as other expenses such as business travel, etc. In some cases you can expense a portion of your mortgage interest – this is the kind of thing that an accountant would be able to advise on.
  • Details of any gains made on property and investment disposals or gifts.

If you are looking for assistance with completing your tax return, our friendly and experienced team would be delighted to help. And they offer a FREE initial consultation to understand your needs prior to giving you a full quote, so why not get in touch via our website or call us on 0141 221 2984 and ask for the personal tax department.

*Stats provided by ICAEW blog https://ion.icaew.com/taxfaculty/b/weblog/posts/hmrc-customer-service-performance-2018-19

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