Self-Assessment Tax Tips

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Despite 2020 being a turbulent year for many businesses in the UK, the self-assessment deadline of 31st January still stands, with fines and penalties in place for late filing. Josh Ruthven, from our tax department, goes through our top tips for a seamless and trouble-free self-assessment tax return.

Gather the right documents

The correct documents depend on your individual situation to a large extent and your accountant should inform you of the paperwork required long before the deadline. For example, if you have been employed you will need your P60, which will detail the income and subsequent tax that you have paid in the employment. If you have left a job in the last year, you will need your P45, and if you have received one, a P11D.

If this is the first time you have filed a self-assessment tax return, you are required to apply for a UTR (Unique Tax Number) in advance, which acts similarly to a National Insurance number. This usually takes around 10 days to arrive, so it is essential that you have applied for it in time.

Understand your allowances

The personal allowance allows everyone to have £12,500 of tax-free income, unless you earn over £100,000. If you do earn over £100,000, your personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 you earn over £100,000.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, where one person earns below the £12,500 personal allowance, you may be able to transfer 10% of the personal allowance to the other spouse, using the marriage allowance.

Make the most of expenses

We have previously had clients that have been paying hundreds of pounds more tax than they need to with their previous accountant, all because they weren't making the most of claiming back the expenses they have incurred whilst operating throughout the year.

Claimable expenses include travel costs, uniform cleaning and utilities. An experienced accountant will be able to look at your business structure and explain all qualifying expenses for you or your company.

Use Cloud Accounting software

Throughout the year, you and your accountant should save any bills or receipts if you are claiming expenses. Using Cloud Accounting Software throughout the year can prove to be extremely useful when it comes to gathering expenditure information together to help file expenses.

Use a reputable accountant

In many cases, by using an accountant to file your self-assessment tax return, you will save a lot of money off your tax bill. This is because experienced accountants will know the rules and reduce the chances of poorly reported or inaccurate accounts, thereby avoiding fines or paying too much tax to HMRC.

Who needs to file a self assessment tax return?

HMRC's self-assessment is usually designed for those who receive an income but don't pay tax through an employer's PAYE system. You are required to submit a self-assessment tax return if any of the following applies to you between April 2019 to April 2020.

  • You were self-employed with an income of over £1,000
  • You have an income of over £50,000, and you or your partner have claimed child benefit
  • You earn £10,000 or more before tax from savings, investments, shares or dividends
  • You were advised by HMRC that you didn't pay enough tax last year.
  • You filed a self-assessment tax return last year (unless HMRC have already informed you that a new one is not required)
  • You have received income from a trust
  • You have earned income from abroad whilst living in the UK
  • You are required to pay Capital Gains Tax
  • You are renting out a property

If you would like any information on anything mentioned, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team by calling on 0115 955 5500 or emailing at We are always on hand to support our clients with their self-assessments and have an experienced team to save you money and avoid fines.

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