Five common mistakes to avoid on tax returns

With nearly four million tax returns outstanding, Trusha Shah, tax manager at HW Fisher, offers advice for those who have not yet filed

The deadline for filing self assessment tax returns online is 31 January and this means there is less than a week to go.  Too often individuals leave it too late and make simple, costly mistakes in their haste to complete it on time.

Do you need to file a tax return?

You must submit a tax return if you have self-employed earnings or have received untaxed income over £1,000.

However, it is not just the self-employed who must complete a self assessment tax return. You will also have to file if you have any untaxed income from:

•           money from renting out a property, including through Airbnb;

•            tips and commission;

•            income from savings, investments and dividends; and

•            foreign income.

This list is not exhaustive. If you are unsure on whether you need to complete a tax return, please seek professional advice or contact HMRC directly.

Five common mistakes to avoid

1.           Give yourself plenty of time: Gathering paperwork takes longer than you think! This includes your P60, which confirms how much tax you have paid. You will also need records of your benefits and expenses, which can be found on your P11D or P9D forms. You will also need a P45 from your previous employer if you left a job in the last tax year.

2.           You can claim tax relief on pension contributions: Keep records of any pension contributions you make to claim the appropriate tax relief.

3.           Remember to include charity gift aid payments: You will also need the details of all your gift aid payments - for example, have you sponsored a friend to run for charity? HMRC provides some tax relief on charitable donations, which can be included.

4.           Always keep a copy of your completed tax return: If you are employed or a pensioner, keep all paperwork for 22 months after the end of the tax year. Self-employed people or landlords should keep all paperwork for five years and 10 months.

5.           Don’t forget to take advantage of your personal savings allowance: This can be applied to interest earned on your savings. The interest you receive on your savings could be tax-free up to £5,000 per year.

Completing your tax return on time is crucial. If not, you will face a £100 fine, which will increase if your return is more than three months late.

If you are paying from overseas, allow extra time for processing.

For more detailed information on how to complete your return, including how to make payments and set up a payment plan, visit HMRC’s website.

Trusha Shah |Tax manager, HW Fisher

Trusha Shah is a tax manager at HW Fisher...

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