Self Assessment: Don't leave It to the Last Minute!

Don't get us wrong. We're not your mother. We're not going to nag you to clean up your room or get to bed on time. We are, however, going to suggest you get your homework done early. Despite getting months to prepare, a huge number of people wait until the last minute to file their Self Assessment tax returns. Yes, the forms can be a pain - and sometimes even a little scary. If you get a head start on them, though, you could be doing yourself a big favour.

Remember that self assessment is not just for self-employment. Even if you're working full time or retired. Not knowing that you were supposed to is not sufficient reason not to fine you in the eyes of HMRC.

The Taxman doesn't like it when you're late.

If you've been paying attention, you already know that missing the filing deadline is a really bad idea. If the 31st of January rolls by without you sending in your self assessment tax return you've got big problems. That £100 fine for being even one day late is just the start of it. The fixed fines start ramping up daily if you keep on delaying. You could also be looking at penalties for the unpaid tax you owe, and interest on the debt. If HMRC starts to suspect you're deliberately trying to hide from them, things start to turn really ugly. Seriously, don't get caught out by the deadline for filing and paying up.

Steer clear of nasty surprises.

When it comes to handling your taxes, it's all about keeping a clean house and forward planning. If you get your Self Assessment tax returns out of the way early, you'll have a clear picture of the road ahead. You'll know exactly what you'll have to pay well in advance, so you'll have a much easier time planning around it. Depending on your situation, you might even have a couple of options to simplify things. If you work PAYE and file early enough, for instance, you might be able to have the tax collected automatically. If nothing else, you won't get stuck with a huge bill you didn't have time to budget for.

Cut the hassle out of your paperwork.

Tax returns can mean keeping track of a lot of records. If you're used to the system, you've probably got a good handle on what you need and where you keep it. It can catch you out if you're new to Self Assessment, though - and even old hands get tripped up sometimes. The longer you leave it before filing, the more likely you are to lose something important. What's worse, the less time you have to prepare, the harder it is to get the documents you need. Digging through old bank statements isn't much fun at the best of times. Doing it in a hurry then chasing up the missing ones is a nightmare when your time's running out.

The taxman might not be much help.

You already know better than to expect sympathy from HMRC if you miss the tax return deadline. The sad fact is they're not always going to be able to pick up your slack. If you've got a problem you need to discuss with the taxman, there's no point trying to catch him on January the 30th. Even registering for Self Assessment and getting your UTR number can take weeks, and getting through on a helpline takes patience and luck. Getting through to someone at HMRC is rarely easy, but doing it close to a major deadline is always worse. You'll be racking up phone charges and battling thousands of other late filers every step of the way.
Give your accountant a break, and he'll do the same for you

Crazy as it sounds, not everyone knows about RIFT and why we're the UK's top tax refund experts. For those still struggling along with traditional grey-suited accountants, filing your self assessment tax return close to the deadline can be pricey. You could get stung with a premium rate if you dump your paperwork on an accountant or advisor in January. Of course, you could just get in touch with RIFT for a better option altogether...

Get your refund sooner!

Here's the big one. If you're owed a tax refund, or suspect you might be, then you're only delaying it by waiting to file your self assessment tax return. Filing earlier is a great way to make sure there's no delay on your rebate. Again, it's all about getting the taxman's attention at a quieter time. The less paperwork he's ploughing through when yours arrives, the quicker he'll get to it.

Filing Self Assessment returns is no one's idea of fun - but there's every reason to get it done in good time. You can save yourself a lot more than just hassle and stress. Filing sooner rather than later can actually put money back in your pocket as well.

Talk to RIFT for more about how we can help with all your self assessment tax return and tax troubles. While you're at it, you might think about cleaning your room, too.

If you need any help with your tax returns, or if you think you're eligible to claim a tax rebateget in touch now on 01233 628648, talk to us on LiveChat or connect with us on Facebook.