Tax returns - File your HMRC Tax Return Online

Whether you file it on paper or online, your tax return is the form you use to declare all your taxable income to HMRC. You also use tax returns for claiming any tax allowances you’re entitled to, or any tax rebates you’re owed. HMRC uses the information you send them to work out how much tax you owe or are owed back. Getting your tax returns right can be complicated and stressful – and even innocent mistakes can cost you. RIFT can take care of the whole messy business for you, handling all the paperwork and hitting all the deadlines.

Self-Employed Tax Calculator

Tax Returns

What is a tax return?

A tax return is a simple way of telling the taxman:

HMRC takes that information, crunches the numbers and comes back with the total amount of tax you owe.  If you're self-employed, you'll use a self-assessment tax return to sort out your allowances.

The tax return rules have a lot of hoops to jump through, so it's definitely worth getting comfortable with the information on this page.  Not understanding what you were supposed to do is no excuse in the taxman's eyes.  Each year, carelessness and lack of interest in the tax system sees huge numbers of self assessment taxpayers written up in HMRC's bad books.

Tax returns aren't just for the self-employed people, either.  There are actually loads of reasons why HMRC might expect a return from your - and it's a very bad idea to keep them waiting.  So, if you're the director of a company or have income outside of your main job, don't ignore the taxman when he starts sniffing around for a return.

One way to stay safe is to check out our breakdown of some of the most common tax return mistakes.  You should also look into what's expected of you if you're moving to the UK to work and may need to pay UK tax.  On the other hand, if you've got work expenses you pay yourself and might be due a tax rebate, our simple tax rebate calculator will point you in the right direction. 

Self-Employed Tax Calculator

Tax Returns

When do I need to sort out my tax return?

As long as you’ve got your tax return filed online by the 31st of January the following year, you can do it whenever’s convenient. Having said that, it’s really not a great idea to wait until the last minute. The more notice you give yourself to get your return filed and your tax paid, the easier things will be for you. Filing sooner gives you a heads-up of what you owe long before you need to come up with the cash, for instance. That means you’re giving yourself some valuable time for planning and saving up. On top of that, things tend to get a little hectic at HMRC as the tax return deadline creeps closer. Here are a few eye-opening examples:

  • A record 88% of tax returns were sent online in 2018/19. The real crushes tend to come on the 30th and 31st of January, when HMRC has received as many as 980,000 returns. The busiest hour is often between 1pm and 2pm on the 30th of January, when as many as 50,000 returns can be received – that’s 830 per minute!
  • The busiest hour on deadline day tends to be between 11 am and midday. Around 32,000 returns can easily be received then – which is 530 per minute. Amazingly, HMRC still somehow manages to answer about 95% of calls first time on deadline day.
  • Literally millions of taxpayers (as much as 42%) leave it until January to file their returns. This is despite HMRC asking for them back in April!
  • Christmas Day can see over 2,000 tax returns submitted, with well over another 5,000 on Boxing Day.
  • A total of nearly 25,000 tax return submissions have been recorded on New Year's Eve, plus another 11,500 on New Year's Day.
  • Missing the tax return deadline lands you with an automatic £100 late-filing penalty. Those fines ratchet up further after 3, 6 and 12 months. A genuine excuse might stop the penalty pain, but don't count on it.

Tax Return Fees

What do accountants charge for Self Assessment tax returns?

It all depends on the accountant. You might be offered a fixed fee for a basic tax return service, or get stung with an expensive hourly rate. Either way, the charges made by traditional accountants can vary widely. Your circumstances can make a major difference, too. For example, a CIS subcontractor might be charged £250 as a fixed fee. However, the same accountant might charge £350 for a Sole Trader with full accounts to go through. A partnership might easily be charged £400 or more for the same service, while Limited Companies could find themselves billed £650 or even more. When you get into clocking up hourly rates, tax return accountant fees as high as £120 per hour aren't unusual.

RIFT is different. We’ve got a tax return service with no hourly rates to and no hidden charges to spring on you. Our fixed-rate prices start at just £95+VAT. Meanwhile, our CIS Tax Return and Refund package is £245+VAT, and our free Tax Return Calculator means you get no nasty surprises. Just answer a few quick questions and we'll quote you a simple fixed fee for your tax return.

Tax refunds and tax returns

What's the difference between a tax refund and a tax return?

A tax refund is the money HMRC gives you back when you've paid too much tax for any reason. Tax returns, by contrast, are one of the tools you use to claim that refund. If you're paying out over £2,500 in work expenses each year, for example, the taxman will ask for a tax return from you before he pays out on your refund claim.

When you’re self-employed or working through CIS (the Construction Industry Scheme), you'll use a Self Assessment tax return to report the cash coming in and going out. It's still easy to end up paying too much tax through Self Assessment, though, so getting expert help is always a smart move.

Tax Calculator

UTR Number

What's a UTR number?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number is a 10 digit code that you or your company get from HMRC to identify you for tax purposes. 

If you work in trades and need a UTR number, RIFT can help.  We can also help you out if you've lost your UTR number. Click the button below to find out more.

UTR Number Help

Current tax year

What is the current tax year in the UK?

UK Tax years run from the 6th of April to the 5th of April the following calendar year. For example, the tax year covering 2018/2019 ended on the 5th April 2019. This means your tax rebate for that year could cover expenses from as far back as 2015/16.

As for why the tax year is worked out from such odd dates - well, it's complicated. The short answer is that Pope Gregory XIII messed everything up and September 1752 was missing 11 days. After that, things get tricky...


CIS Tax Returns

If you’re paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), you’ll have to start filing annual Self Assessment tax returns after your first year of trading. You’ll submit your tax return after the end of the tax year in April, then pay any tax you owe by the end of following January.

RIFT’s dedicated CIS tax return team is always standing by and ready to help with any questions, problems or worries you may have.

CIS Tax Returns

Income Support

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is designed to help self-employed people get through the COVID-19 crisis. With the 4th round of SEISS grants, the rules on who qualifies were loosened up slightly. You should be okay to claim if:

  • You filed a Self Assessment tax return for 2019-20 by the 2nd of March 2021.
  • Over half of your earnings come from self-employment.
  • You’ve been making under £50,000 a year on average over the last 3 years.
  • Your business has suffered significantly as a result of COVID-19.

The 4th SEISS grant pays out 80% of your average profits over 3 months, capped at £7,500, worked out using your last 3 years of profits. If you became self-employed more recently than that, only your time in self-employment will be used to make the calculations.

A final SEISS grant is coming later in the 2021, to be claimed from around the end of July. Only people who’ve seen a 30% drop in their average turnover will get the full 80% pay-out (capped at £7,500) this time. If your turnover’s dropped by less, you’ll get a 30% grant level instead, capped at £2,850.

If you’re eligible for a SEISS grant, you should be contacted by HMRC with instructions and a personal claim date. See our FAQ here for more about the scheme.

RIFT Reviews

Here's what our customers say

We’re proud to be the very first tax company in history to be awarded a ServiceMark by the Institute of Customer Service. That means we’re recognised for our friendly, helpful and zero-jargon approach to tax returns and tax rebates. We won’t ask you to take our word for it, either. Just take a look at our reviews. We love it when our customers tell us how they feel about their experience with us on independent reviews site, Trustpilot. Direct, honest feedback like this lets us build on our strengths and offer the very best service we can.

Trustpilot Reviews

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Need more help?

Wondering if you can claim a tax refund or need to submit a tax return? Use our online tools to find out if you're owed money by HMRC.

Do I Qualify?

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