Phew! Well done folks, your January 2015 tax return deadline is out of the way. Did you find it stressful? Maybe feeling pushed for time? It isn’t the most exciting time of year but, at least it doesn’t happen often - plus a well-earned tax refund can make it all worth it.

Whether you completed your tax return online or via paper submission, no doubt when working on it some of you found anything BUT your tax returns, unusually interesting. To help beat the pesky procrastinator within we’ve got some tips for you to stay organised and keep focused on meeting that target!

Your next tax returns deadline is: 31st October 2015 for paper returns, or 31st January 2016 for online returns, but why not get an early start? Let’s get to work…
1. De-clutter your space and organise the paperwork

Before you begin, you must tackle your paper stack mountain! Create a clutter-free environment to work in because you are about to get stuck-in with some fiddly numbers. A clear work space makes for a calmer tax returns experience.

You can find a full list of everything you’ll need to complete your tax return here but, as a rough guide you’ll need:

  • Your P60 or (if you have one) your P11D
  • Receipts and records for expenses
  • Bank and building society statements
  • Any relevant paperwork for records of interest such as, savings, investments, pensions etc.

Tip: Although you don’t need to send off any of your papers, you should keep them for two years following the end of the tax year!
2. Manage your workload

Be kind to yourself and break it down. Create a list of smaller tasks and enjoy striking completed tasks off one by one; you’ll feel more productive and can visually see your progress. It can be easy to become lost under a sea of expenses receipts, so if it does begin to drown you, take a break and have a cup of tea - just make sure you go back!

It’s also worth remembering that charging in with a few days to go and a crate of caffeinated drinks could cause a costly mistake and unnecessary stress! The HMRC can penalise you for carelessness and providing incorrect information.

  • Easily forgotten at the last minute, start small by filling in your personal details.
  • Create a written list and strike off every section you complete.
  • Be sure to sign it all off - including the last page! Don’t fall short at the last hurdle

3. Reward every milestone

For every section you complete, you’ve earned a treat. This could mean a take away this Friday, a cinema trip, drinks at the pub - endless goodies to work towards!

Tip: If you are waiting for some information that might impact on your assessment, you may wish to submit your tax return without it, temporarily stating that you have provided the most up-to-date information.
4. Set your own deadline and stick to it!

Time management is paramount. Instead of becoming bogged down with a looming HMRC deadline, be ready for it or even better, submit it early - hurrah!

Write your new (early) date for completion everywhere. Make sure it is visible on all online, mobile phone and paper calendars because you need to trick your brain into believing it too.
5. Tell everyone you’re doing your tax return

We share everything we shouldn’t on social media these days so why not announce you’re doing your tax returns? We can’t guarantee you’ll be trending anytime soon but you are applying gentle pressure to yourself. Not too much but just a nudge in the right direction… and you can reply with a big, smug YES when people ask “so did you get your tax return in on time?”.

6. Find support where you can

Along the same lines as a study buddy, find someone to keep you working. It might be someone else you know also completing their tax return - arrange some time to work through them together. Or you may have a friend who’s handy with numbers, working in accounting or bookkeeping - it’s not always about what you know but whom!
7. And finally…

It sounds obvious but unfortunately, it happens.

  • Don’t forget to press “submit”!
  • Wait for your confirmation code so you can relax knowing it’s successfully completed.
  • Wait for your reward - a well deserved self-employed tax rebate!

What if I can’t get my tax return submitted by the deadline?

If you do end up running out of steam and find yourself unable to meet the deadline, you can apply for an extension of time. Remember this would just be an extension of time, you won’t be exempt from any charges for late submission. So if you have some pounds to spare, there is always this option to consider. But for those of you wanting to keep a tight pull on the purse strings, make sure you’re using our top tips to stay on target and meet that tax returns deadline!
Still stressed about tax returns? Or need a helping hand?

RIFT are here to help. We’ve filed more tax returns than most people have had hot dinners and know UK tax legislation inside and out. With just a few simple bits of information we can complete your tax return on your behalf, in 95% of cases getting back a juicy refund to boot. Or we also help with HMRC enquiries and deal with the tax office on your behalf. You don’t have to be alone.