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These may sound obvious, but it's often the simplest details that trip people up. You might have calculated every last penny of every last expense. You might have kept and organised all your bank statements and payslips. However, all that care and effort mean nothing if you haven't done the following:
What HMRC want from your tax return is a complete overview. They won't be satisfied with anything less. Skipping over things you aren't sure of, or writing "details to follow" will only land you in hot water. Always use cold, hard numbers when they're asked for.
RIFT tip: Remember you can save your progress on the returns website. If you're waiting for exact figures or details, you can always come back and fill them in later. Just remember to get it all finalised before the deadline.
Another obvious one. If HMRC asks for a figure, it means it wants the EXACT figure. Don't guess or estimate. Get it right and double-check it.
RIFT tip: The website forms will do quite a lot of the actual calculations for you. Again, though - if you're even slightly concerned about your accuracy then professional advice is the way to go.
This is a big one. Paper tax returns have to be filed by the 31st of October. If you're doing it online, you've got until the 31st of January. The fines for missing a tax return deadline start at £100 for being even a single day late. After that, things just get worse.
RIFT tip: Once more, filing via the website gives you a little extra breathing space. Remember to check your account details on the HMRC site regularly. You'll see at a glance what deadlines might be looming.
This is a broad category, and there are a lot of tiny details that can catch you out. Make sure your National Insurance number and Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number are correct.
RIFT tip: If you lose track of your UTR, you can find it on any correspondence you get from the taxman. Even if you can't remember it, he will.
Claiming your expenses correctly is a huge part of getting your tax return right. There are strict and complicated rules about what counts as a business expense. Don't cut corners learning them. The taxman has no sense of humour when people claim for things that aren't allowed.
RIFT tip: This mistake can cut both ways. A lot of people miss out on expense claims they could make, and end up paying way too much tax. A quick chat with RIFT could go a long way toward putting cash back in your pocket.
It can take a lot of work to fill in all the blanks when your finances are complicated - but it's worth it. Remember that this information can actually save you money or qualify you for tax relief. Depending on your situation, you might have to give details of things like:
RIFT tip: The self assessment tax return form has a space for "additional information". Remember to use it if you need to add details not covered by the rest of the form.
Filing a self assessment tax return means paperwork. From the money you've got coming in to the miles you're travelling, you need to get used to keeping good business records.
The taxman isn't interested in seeing a rough outline of your finances. He wants the full picture. If you're claiming expenses, you need receipts. If you're billing clients, you need invoices. Depending on the business you're in, there could be a range of details to keep track of. You've got to be able to prove everything you say in your return.
RIFT tip: If you're working PAYE and filing a tax return, you need to keep your records for at least 22 months after the end of the tax year. If you're self-employed, you need to hang onto them for 5 years!
If you realise you've got it wrong, you should always move fast to fix it. In general, you'll have 12 months after the filing deadline to correct any mistakes.
RIFT tip: Our best advice is always to come and talk to us. Even if you've already filed your return, there are ways we can help you correct it. While we're at it, we may be able to save you some money, too.
RIFT are the UK's top tax experts. We can handle everything from one-off self assessment worries to annual tax rebates worth thousands of pounds. The rules of the self assessment game are tricky to learn, but we'll make sure the taxman always plays fair.
You can be charged a penalty for mistakes on tax returns which either understate the tax or misrepresent the tax liability. HMRC define this as lack of 'reasonable care' where individuals or businesses are expected to keep records that allow them to give a complete and accurate return. If you are using an agent to file your tax return, a company like RIFT for example, HMRC expect you to confirm the correct information.
If you are fined because of a lack of reasonable care, the level of the penalty will depend on the reasons for the error and the potential lost revenue.
For example, if:
Even the taxman makes mistakes from time to time and if you think you're on the receiving end of one, let RIFT know straight away. With RIFT as your agent there's:
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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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