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.
HMRC Self Assessment
What are self Assessment Tax Returns ?
HMRC Self Assessment Tax Returns are one of the way the taxman works out how much UK taxpayers owe. Even if your income's already taxed by PAYE, you might still have to file a UK tax return to declare any other income or claim a tax refund.
When you file a Self Assessment tax return online, you're telling HMRC what income you have and what you're spending to stay in business. Self Assessment returns are designed to be as simple as possible, but it's very easy (and often expensive) to get them wrong. Most people choose to handle their Self Assessment online, but it's possible to do it on paper if necessary.
HMRC Self Assessment tax returns are very different from the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system most people use. Under PAYE, tax is deducted automatically from wages, pensions and savings. People and businesses with other income must report it in a Self Assessment tax return, even if you already pay tax on any income you get from an employer under PAYE.
Self-employed tax returns mean keeping business records if you're self-employed, so be sure to keep your business records handy when the time to file comes. You'll also need to consider things like payments on account each year. These involve paying 6 months' worth of tax in advance on the 31st of January and 31st of July each year. It's also worth understanding what you can claim on your expenses when you do your tax return. If you think you could be due a tax refund, our simple tax refund calculator will tell you.Tax Return Quote
Self Assessment Online
Who needs to do a self assessment tax return?
It's not just the self-employed who need to worry about self assessment tax returns. You’ll need to submit one if:
- you got £2,500 or more in untaxed income e.g. money from renting out a property or savings and investments. You can find out more about paying tax on rental income here.
- your savings or investment income was £10,000 or more before tax
- you made profits from selling things like shares, a second home or other chargeable assets and need to pay Capital Gains Tax
- you were a company director - unless it was for a non-profit organisation (eg a charity) and you didn’t get any pay or benefits, like a company car
- you're a nominated business partner - when you set up a Partnership and get it registered with HMRC, one of you becomes the "nominated partner". If that's you, it's your responsibility to manage the business partnership's tax returns
- your income (or your partner’s) was over £50,000 and one of you claimed Child Benefit as there is the High Income Child Benefit Tax Charges to consider.
- you had income from abroad that you needed to pay tax on foreign income for
- you lived abroad and had a UK income
- you got dividends from shares and you’re a higher or additional rate taxpayer
- your income was over £100,000
- you were a trustee of a trust or registered pension scheme
- you had a P800 from HMRC saying you didn’t pay enough tax last year - and you didn’t pay what you owe through your tax code or with a voluntary payment
- you make a substantial amount of money from selling things online. Find out more about self assessment and online selling
Certain other people may need to send a return (eg religious ministers or Lloyd’s underwriters) – call us to check.Tax Return Quote
Self Assessment Tax Returns Online
What is filing a tax return?
Tax returns are just a way of telling HMRC what you've been up to and what money you've got going in and out. They're what the taxman uses to work out the Income Tax and National Insurance you owe. Not everyone needs to file their own tax returns, but those who do use a system called Self Assessment.
Self Assessment tax returns are designed to be as simple as possible. Even so, it's easy to get tangled up if you aren't used to the system and the kind of language it uses. There are hard-and-fast deadlines for filing your returns, and for paying the tax you owe. These can vary depending on how you choose to submit your return, but it's always bad news to miss one.
There are lots of common, painful mistakes made when people file Self Assessment tax returns. If you're not sure of your footing, or whether you even have to file at all, talk to RIFT. Our tax return service will put you on the right track, and can even prepare and file your tax return for you.
Self Assessment Tax Returns Online
Why should I file my Self Assessment Tax Returns online?
Filing tax returns online is the fastest and safest way of keeping on the right side of HMRC. Online tax returns mean you don't have to wade through pages of questions that don't apply to you. They also mean you have later deadlines and no worries about postal delays or lost items. Your tax will be calculated automatically, and you'll get any repayments you're owed faster than with paper returns. You'll see instantly what tax you owe, and will be able to correct mistakes before they become problems.
Almost 90% of people filing Self Assessment tax returns do it online. It's not always an easy system to get to grips with or get the best from, though. That's why RIFT's tax return service takes all the worry and guesswork out of Self Assessment for you. With our help, you'll avoid all the pitfalls and never miss out on anything you're entitled to.
Here are a few things you need to know about Self Assessment tax returns:
- You need to register for it in advance to use the online system. You'll be sent an activation code, but it can take a while to get set up. That's why it's important to get it sorted out well in advance.
- You can register on the HMRC website. You'll need your 10-digit Unique taxpayer Reference number (UTR) and your National Insurance number or Post Code.
- The deadline for filing is the 31st of October for paper returns. Online returns have until the 31st of January the following year. There are penalties for submitting even a single day late, so filing online gives you much more time to get the work done. For 2016-17 paper returns, penalties start mounting up from the 1st of November 2017, for example. For 2016-17 online returns, those penalties don't start until the 1st of February 2018.
- With online filing, you get an automatic acknowledgement from HMRC that your return's been received. If you're sending a paper return, you won't get that, so you'll need to get proof that you posted it in case of problems.
Self Assessment Tax Returns Online
What if I can't use Self Assessment Online?
There are a few kinds of people who can't use online self assessment, and have to file their tax returns on paper. For instance, MOD personnel with certain clearance levels need to use paper returns. RIFT can, of source, still handle your Self Assessment in these cases.
If you've got other problems with online self assessment, we can help there too. If you've got limited access to the internet, or disabilities that make online returns a challenge, talk to us. We're always available to talk through your issues and solve your problems. We can even help over skype using British Sign Language if you're hard of hearing.
Self Employed Tax Returns
Self assessment for the self employed
When you're setting up a small business, you've got some important decisions to make. One of the first is between being a Sole Trader or forming a Limited Company. There are pros and cons to each route. You'll be weighing up simplicity against security, and inexpensiveness against tax efficiency. Either way, though, you're going to have to be comfortable with HMRC's Self-Assessment tax system.
When you're self-employed, you really have to understand what Self Assessment means for you and your business. The system has specific deadlines and requirements to meet - and painful penalties for failing to meet them. RIFT can take care of all your Self Assessment and self-employment questions or problems. We can even file your tax returns for you, and fight your corner with HMRC if you want.
Find out more about accounting options for the self employed here.Tax return quote
Tax Return Service
Self Assessment Tax Return Team
The Self Assessment system isn't just for the self-employed. Whether you're running a business or simply have a second income to declare, RIFT can help. If your tax refund features a lot of expenses to claim for, you'll need to use Self Assessment to file it. The RIFT tax return service has a package to fit your needs, handling everything from simple one-off claims to complex yearly tax affairs. We'll make sure you never miss a deadline or face an HMRC fine. We understand the self-employment and small business worlds, and can help you get back both the money and time the taxman's costing you.Tax Return Quote
RIFT is the UK's leading tax expert. With our help, you'll never pay too much tax, miss a deadline or find yourself on the wrong side of HMRC:
- We're the top specialists in our field, winning awards and championing our clients.
- Government, industry and key organisations trust and work closely with us.
- Our specialist teams can handle the trickiest details of Self Assessment, from self-employment and CIS to landlords and foreign income.
Self Assessment Tax Returns
What documents do I need to file a self assessment return?
Filing a Self Assessment tax return means showing HMRC a full picture of your finances. Here are a few of the most important documents to hold onto:
- Form P45, if you stopped working for an employer during the tax year.
- Form P60, showing what tax you've paid.
- Form P11D, if you get any "benefits in kind" like a company car.
- Records of any Taxed Award Schemes or redundancy payments.
- Other things to keep track of include extra income such as untaxed tips, incentive payments or benefits like meal vouchers.
Remember, it's not just the self-employed who file a Self Assessment tax return online. If you're claiming a tax rebate for expenses of over £2,500, you'll need to use the system too.Tax Return Quote
Self Assessment Tax Returns
What happens if I don’t get my self assessment tax return in?
There’s basically no acceptable excuse for missing self assessment tax return deadlines, even if you don't owe HMRC anything. If you miss the deadline there are a number of self assessment tax return penalties that you could be hit with:
- £100 automatic fine for filing even a single day late,
- £900 in penalties can stack up over the next three months
- £3,000 for each year you can’t provide the necessary records
We’re here to take care of everything - from completing your tax return, through calculating any refunds due, to speaking to HMRC on your behalf. You can also get more self assessment tax return tips and advice here with some clear do's and don'tsTax Return Quote
What does employment status mean? Can I choose whether I'm employed or self-employed?
Knowing your employment status is incredibly important. Self-employed people are treated very differently from employed ones by HMRC. It makes a difference to your National Insurance contributions, your Income Tax and the ways you pay both. It also has a big effect on the way you qualify for and claim your tax refunds.
The key thing to realise is that you can't just choose your employment status to suit you. The taxman is very keen on stamping out what he calls 'false self-employment'. This is where people are treated as if they were employees, but are declared as self-employed. Workers trapped like this can easily find themselves missing out on key employee perks like sick pay or maternity leave. Whether you're employed depends entirely on your circumstances, and there's a surprising amount of fuzziness in the definitions.Tax Return Quote
Self Assessment Tax Returns
How do I know if I'm employed or self-employed?
If you've got a contract to work for a company you don't own, there's a good chance you're employed by them. Employed people tend to work set hours, usually for one company at a time. They get regular pay either weekly or monthly, which has already been taxed. They also have paid holidays or other benefits.
Self employed people probably work for several clients or customers at the same time. They may own their own business and can choose how, where and when they work. They tend to invoice for each job they take on and pay their own taxes through Self-Assessment. In some cases, they may not even have to do the work themselves. Many self-employed people can actually assign other people to do it instead. Things can get tricky when a self-employed person gets work through an agency or other employment intermediary. Also, if you've got more than one job, it's possible you might be bother employed and self-employed at the same time. If you've got any doubts about your employment status, talk to RIFT and we'll get it sorted out.Tax Return Quote
I'm self-employed, what are my allowable expenses?
Expenses for self-employed people are the inescapable costs of doing your work or running your business. When you're filling in your Self Assessment tax return each year, they reduce the amount of profit you end up paying tax on. The specific rules for this depend on whether you're a Sole Trader or a Limited Company, and how you do your accounting. The main point, though, is that there are certain necessary expenses that count against your taxable income. Examples of common allowable expenses include:
- Travel costs, whether in your own vehicle or by public transport.
- Specialised clothing, tools or equipment you need for your work.
- Any stock you buy to sell on.
- Anything you're spending on advertising or marketing.
Sometimes, you may pay for something that has both a business and a personal use, like a phone bill. In general, you can only claim for the proportion of business use you get out of it. If you work from home, you might also be able to claim a percentage of your household bills as expenses.Tax Return Quote
Is there a simpler way to work out my allowable expenses?
There are a couple of things you can do to keep your expenses calculations simple. One is to use the "cash basis" of accounting. Traditional accounting has a few complicated rules about when costs become allowable expenses. For instance, if you buy some stock to sell on, HMRC says you've bought an "asset", and can't claim its cost as an expense. When you sell the stock, what you paid for it becomes an expense of the sale, and can be claimed for. Under the cash basis, you simply record everything you spend when you spend it. This means you can claim the stock as an expense straight away.
Another option is to use HMRC's "simplified expenses" rules. Under this system, you can claim fixed amounts as expenses for things like working from home or running a vehicle. Simplified expenses can't be used by Limited Companies, though. Only Sole Traders and partnerships (with no companies as partners) can choose them.Tax Return Quote
Do self assessments take longer?
How long does a self assessment tax return take?
Tax returns involving Self Assessment needn't take longer than other kinds to process. HMRC usually takes about 8-10 weeks to sort out a refund, but there are things that can slow them down. One of these is people having trouble with the Self Assessment system.
Self Assessment is often part of the tax refund claim process, and it's not only the self-employed who have to deal with it. If you're claiming for expenses over £2,500, for instance, you'll need to file a Self Assessment return to do it. You may also have to file one if you've got income from other sources, like rent from a property you're letting out. Construction workers using the CIS system know all about Self Assessment, as it's vital in claiming back the tax taken from their pay.
The main thing to know is that RIFT takes care of Self Assessment as part of our service. We'll help get you registered for the scheme if you aren't already, and handle all the heavy lifting of getting your return filed. Keep in mind that registering for Self Assessment can take a couple of weeks. HMRC have to send you a Unique Taxpayer Reference number, so it's worth planning ahead.
RIFT has 7 specialist teams working to get your refund paid as quickly as possible. They make sure there are no hold-ups when your claim goes to HMRC, checking for mistakes and keeping the process moving. There are even a few simple things you can do to help your claim go as quickly and smoothly as possible. Getting your 64-8 form signed and returned promptly is a big step in the right direction, for instance.Tax Return Quote
Do I need a UTR number when filing a Self Assessment tax return?
Yes, you'll need a UTR number when filing a Self Assessment tax return. You will also need it if you are:
- Registering for the Construction Industry Scheme.
- Working with an accountant or anyone who is managing financial affairs on your behalf.
If you need a UTR number or have lost one we can help. Get in touch with us.UTR Number
Here's what our customers say
We pride ourselves with being the first company in the tax sector to be awarded ServiceMark by the Institute of Customer Service, That's because we're known for our friendly, helpful and jargon free approach to tax matters. But don't just take our word for it, check out our reviews. We invite customers to tell us what they think about their experience with us on Trustpilot, an independent reviews site.Read our reviews
Keep up to date with the RIFT Tax Refunds blog
18th August 2020
What Does Rising Retirement Age Mean For You?
We all hope to live long, healthy lives. The trouble is that more and more of us are actually doing it. As the UK popula…Read more
22nd April 2020
The Trading Allowance: The Easy Tax Break No One's Using
It’s hard to believe when you’re filling in the yearly forms, but the taxman really isn’t trying to make Self Assessment…Read more
Need more help?
Speak to us 6 days a week.
Mon-Thurs 08:30 - 20:30
Fri 08:30 - 18:00 and Sat 09:00 - 13:00.
RIFT Refunds, RIFT House, 200 Eureka Park,Upper Pemberton, Ashford, Kent, TN25 4AZ
Want to chat to a member of our team?
Why not use our live chat to speak to an
online advisor now?