Tips for Self-assessment Tax Return

Self Assessment

Self Assessment

The paper self assessment tax return deadline is just around the corner. Anita Monteith, Technical Manager of the ICAEW Tax Faculty, has the following advice for the more than nine million people who are required to file a tax return.

“With very little time now left before the new deadline for filing your self assessment on paper (31 October), it’s important to get all the relevant papers, forms and information together to make completion of the tax return as smooth a task as possible.

“The tax return also looks different this year so it’s important that those required to file a self assessment don’t leave it until the last minute, as getting familiar with the new forms might take a bit of extra time, although in general they are simpler,”


  • Do you have to? Check whether you are required to file a tax return. Around nine million are required to do so each year and you might fall into that category even if you haven’t received a self assessment form from HMRC. An overview of who is required to complete a tax return can be found on the HMRC website
  • No form? If you believe you have to file a tax return but haven’t received a form from HMRC, please contact your local tax office immediately
  • Gather your information: before you sit down to do your self assessment, make sure you have all required information to hand: the self assessment form — SA100 (additional forms are required for more complicated tax matters, such as income from abroad and income from letting property), details on all income (including accounts if self–employed), P60 and P11D forms from employers and pension providers, interest statements from bank/building societies, information on dividends from trusts and shares, life insurance policy payments, and details on anything you can deduct (pension contributions, gift aid etc)
  • Check and check again: A form that is not completed correctly may be rejected by HMRC. Don’t forget to sign (the most typical error) and date the form, and make sure you fill in all the boxes which apply to you
  • Explain significant changes to last year: If there are any significant changes on your return to last year, tax inspectors would want to know why — note the explanation for them on the form
  • Keep your records: Records of all information used to complete tax returns must be kept for 22 months after the end of the tax year, or for 5 years and 10 months for those carrying on a business or who have income from letting out property. There is a maximum penalty of up to £3,000 for each tax year for which records have not been kept. You should also keep a photocopy of your tax return in case it goes missing in the post and for future comparisons.

“Those who wish to file online rather than on paper still have until 31 January 2009 to submit their return. But they should start preparing now, and should contact their accountant now if they have one, in order to avoid unnecessary stress in the New Year” Anita concluded.

Read out Tax – Self assessment guide for more information on tax deadlines and self assessment.

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