Tax feeling taxing? The UK tax return deadline is approaching

The UK tax return deadline for 2021-2022 is the 31st of January 2023 for online returns and payment. If you’ve done your return by paper the deadline was 31st October 2022. However, there are still options if you have missed this. Tax and returns filing can often feel unnecessarily complicated, with many elements that need to be considered, so here are a few quick tips to remember and make it feel less complicated.

  1. First and foremost, remember the tax year this relates to
    It will be from 6 April to 5 April in the UK. This filing will be from 6 April 2021 to 5 April 2022. You will only need to consider your income during this period of time and it may be that you don’t need to file a return now, but you will do next year. This includes any income earned part-way through the year, and any income that ended ahead of that period. Income streams beyond this date will form part of your next tax return.
  2. Secondly, you need to make sure you are registered and have a Unique Tax Reference (UTR)
    If you have to file a self-assessment return for the first time, you need to be registered to do so. The deadline for registration is early October however, do not panic if you have only just realised you need to file a tax return. You can still register – and do so as soon as possible. The process and paperwork can take some time to arrive, so you may incur penalties, but these will be relative to the tax owed, or a fixed fee. There are means to appeal if you have a reasonable excuse for the lateness. More information on penalties can be found here.
  3. Gather all statements, bills and expenses relating to that time period
    My biggest tip here is to organise everything in a simple spreadsheet or calculation. Start with the income you’ve received – lay it out month by month from 6 April to 5 April. Do the same thing with bills and expenses during the period related to your income. There are allowable expenses that can be claimed against taxable earnings, as well as allowances. Take a look at the HMRC guidance to work out what can be claimed to reduce your net taxable income. Setting this up will also help you in future returns.
    Another tip here is to keep up to date with changes to allowable expenses and allowances. This usually is clear on HMRC’s website, but changes could impact your taxable income. Don’t assume you’re entitled to claim all expenses incurred in the process of earning.
  4. Establish how much you actually owe
    Once you have created your calculation, filing your return is then comprised of individual numbers, not the total bottom line balance. HMRC will have information in relation to earnings through your National Insurance if you have an employer, but check P45s, P60s and payslips to ensure the totals are correct for that time period. This may change the tax you owe on any additional income received depending on the earnings bracket you fall in. Allowances may also mean you have no tax to pay, however, you will still need to file a return to inform HMRC and confirm no tax is owed.
  5. Finally, make sure you pay before 31 January
    Although it may feel like a long process to get to this point, you’re not done until you make payment. Once you’ve submitted all your details it may take a day or two for the payment outstanding to appear on the account, so where possible try and have everything submitted a few days before (limiting the risk of penalties). There are various ways to pay and you can even set up a payment plan if you can’t afford the bill all in one go. You may see that you’re required to make a payment contribution to tax estimates for the next year. Take a look at this, as there are means to adjust if not relevant – for example, a change in circumstance for next year. You will still need to consider your return next year, regardless of if there is tax to pay.

Key takeaway; try and be as organised as possible, and get it started as soon as possible. Once you have all your documents in order, start preparing any calculations to get your return in. January is can be a financially testing time, so the other takeaway is to try and save a little each month to pay for the bill when it comes.

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed when filing the return, have a read through HMRC’s site for guidance. There are many other helpful resources online too – and you can even speak to a tax specialist. There are means to correct if you are uncertain and make payments for unpaid tax if something becomes clear at a later date. Tax is a complex subject and can be dependent person to person, but the main aim is to get it right as soon as possible and direct resources to the right places from taxation.

This represents entirely my own opinions and tips as a result of filing and paying taxes in the UK. In no way is this article associated with HMRC.

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