Do I need to file a personal tax return?
Most people in the UK will not need to fill in a tax return (SA100) because tax is deducted automatically from their wages through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system. Tax is also deducted from savings and pensions at source. If wages, savings or a pension are your only form of income HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will not send you a tax return to complete.
Self Assessment is the system that the government uses to collect income tax that is not deducted at source. If you are sent a tax return for Self Assessment you are required by law to report details of your taxable income and capital gains. HMRC uses the information on your tax return to work out how much tax you owe or whether you are due a tax refund or can claim tax allowances and reliefs.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may issue a tax return to you each tax year (the tax year runs from 6 April one year to 5 April the next). If you receive a tax return, you must either fill it in or tell HMRC why you think you do not need to. HMRC will confirm in writing if they agree that you do not need to complete one.
HMRC will issue you with a tax return if you:
- are self employed and earned more than £1,000 in the tax year
- are a company director
- received more than £2,500 in rental income from property
- income from savings and investments was more than £10,000
- income from shares and dividends was more than £10,000
- have income from abroad
- lived abroad and had a UK income
- household receives Child Benefit and someone in your household has a taxable income above £50,000.
- were paid over £100,000
The form can be completed online or by filling in a paper form. The paper form must be completed by 31 October following the end of the tax year. The online tax return must be completed by 31 January following the end of the tax year.
If your tax return is not competed by the stated date you will receive an automatic penalty. The penalty is £100 if it is up to 3 months late or more if it’s later. Refer to HMRC’s calculator to estimate how much your penalty will be if your return is over 3 months late.
What records do I need to keep?
You are required by law to keep correct records to enable you to fill in a tax return. These include:
- income and sales generated by your business
- the costs of running your business – your expenses
- PAYE records – if you employ anyone
- VAT records – if you are VAT registered
- details of your personal income
You must keep your records for at least 5 years after the deadline for the relevant year. This includes proof such as receipts, bank statements and invoices.
What happens if I get things wrong?
Minor errors can often be put right by an exchange of emails or a phone call, more serious errors that result in significant under-declared income can be considered grounds for opening an enquiry. If any errors are down to fraud or negligence, you may be liable to a penalty and have to pay interest on any underpaid tax.
HMRC defines four types of errors with penalties ranging from 0% to 100% of the underpaid tax.
- Where reasonable care has been taken but later find that an error has been made and report to HMRC, no penalty is applied.
- Where there has been an error due to carelessness, a penalty of 0% – 30% applies. Following prompting from HMRC, a minimum of 15% applies.
- Where there has been a deliberate misstatement 20% – 70%, rising to a 35% minimum following prompting.
- Where a deliberate misstatement has been made which is then concealed, the penalty is between 30% – 100% rising to a 70% minimum following prompting from HMRC.
The penalties are designed to deter anyone from making deliberately inaccurate statements and are especially harsh if these are then further concealed from HMRC.
What if I need help filing my tax return?
Alternatively, an accountant or tax adviser will be able to take care of the entire process from start to finish or help with aspects of the Self Assessment process that you are unsure of.
What are the benefits of asking for advice from an accountant?
When thinking about whether to outsource the filing of your Self Assessment tax return to an accountant it is first worth considering how complicated your business life has been over the previous tax year. The more complicated, the greater the benefits of hiring an accountant.
You’ll save money
Whether it’s saving the amount of tax that you pay or helping you to avoid any nasty fines for filing late, an accountant is likely to save you money. Accountants understand which tax allowances are available to you and the reliefs that you can claim. They also have people who specialise in different tasks which makes them more efficient.
You’ll save time
Sorting and out your finances and filing your tax return takes time. Many of our clients find that their time is better spent either focusing on running their business of enjoying some well earned time with family and friends.
You’ll be able to plan for the future
Most accountants don’t just crunch the numbers, they will help you understand how to manage your finances better, help you with business planning and make sure you understand more about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
You’ll be able to grow your business
Accountants work with all kinds of businesses some of whom may be able to benefit from the goods or services that you offer, others who may be able to help you. Most accountants have a ready-made business network which they are usually happy to introduce you to.
You’ll stay on the right side of the law
Understanding all of the different legislation that is required for running a business can be hard. Your accountant will guide you through the rules and regulations.