The taxman cometh

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It’s nearly that time of year again. No, not Christmas, self-assessment deadline. Harland Accountants director, David Harland, offers some timely advice

David Harland
David Harland

The final 2008/09 tax year self-assessment submission deadline is looming and you have not yet completed the return. Well don’t panic, there is still time before January 31.

1. Are your accounts in order?

If you are a sole trader, a partnership or get income as part of a company, ensure your books are complete. This is a must and forms the majority of the income you will be taxed on – this can be done yourself or by a bookkeeper but do it now!

2. Get organised!

Time, expense and aggravation can be eliminated by getting organised and collating all the information before completing the tax return. Items such as earnings, your profit and “unearned” income like dividends or interest should all be at hand before starting. This information will come from your already well prepared accounts…

3. Getting started

When preparing the return don’t leave any information out. Although best avoided, estimates are permitted but can set off alarms bells at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) leading to an investigation. An accountant can show you what is required but you can also follow the HMRC’s useful online guide.

4. Be careful what you claim for

By organising your documentation properly you can declare all your taxable income. This will include all relevant expenses and allowances for the year, like travel, subsistence or office and IT equipment.

Because the law frequently changes on tax relief you need to be very careful, if you’re unclear in anyway, seek advice. Business Link has some useful information about this.

5. File online

As the paper deadline has already gone you will now have to file online – if doing it yourself you will need the relevant identification and authorisation codes from HMRC. Professional advisers can do this for you and obtain electronic confirmation at the point of acceptance from HMRC.

6. Check and check again

Unforeseen errors, omissions, even genuine mistakes can prove expensive. If an incorrect return is filed there is potential for penalties and interest to be applied to any error. Common mistakes include claiming too much (tax relief) or simply not adding up properly. Getting it right the first-time is generally far more effective and cheaper!

7. Pay your tax in instalments

Given the current economic situation, you may be faced with the prospect of not being able to meet the tax payment due on 31st January. By talking to HMRC it may be possible to arrange a payment plan. Again professional advisors can assist you. For more information click here.

8. Be prepared for next year

Finally, if you have found yourself in the position of not having completed your tax return this year, you may wish to avoid this in future. Professional tax advisors and accountants can not only assist in completing the work earlier but can offer tailored tax advice and should lead to a reduction of your personal or corporate tax burdens.

The earlier you plan, the more potential there is for tax savings.

Remember if seeking assistance you should look for quality assurance indicators. Qualified professionals will be able to guide you through the process and give advice on taxable income by discussing how little tax you need to pay not how much!

Important dates in the tax year can be found here.

Tel: 01726 74573