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Saturday, 30 October, 1999, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Tax self-assessment
Inland Revenue has a helpline for people confused by the form
By BBC News Online's Jane Harbidge

It's that time of year again.

All summer, your tax return has skulked behind the clock on the mantelpiece, buried in that pile of papers or hidden under the sofa while you repeatedly put off the evil day.

But now it can't be put off any longer, if you are to avoid a lot more work - or a painful fine.

If you are one of the nine million people who fall under the Inland Revenue's self-assessment system, you have until 30 September to complete and send back your tax return.

This way, Inland Revenue staff guarantee to work out your tax for you.

After this date, they may do it for you - but you could end up having to do the calculations yourself - and still return the form by 31 January.

So what will you have to do when you buckle down to that form? It's best to not to leave it untill the last minute, as you will have to gather information and papers from a variety of sources.

  • Firstly, make sure the Inland Revenue have sent you any extra pages. You may need these if you have foreign income or are self-employed. Ring the Inland Revenue on 0645 000404 if you need more pages.

  • Other documents you must have to hand include your P60, for employees, and a P11d if you have benefits from your employer, such as a car or mobile phone.

  • You are also likely to need anything which is evidence of any income - whether you are employed, self-employed or freelance. Anyone who earns more than 6,500 in taxable interest or capital gains must declare it.

  • It's a good idea to contact any banks or building societies with whom you have an account as soon as possible to ask for certificates showing the interest paid and tax deducted. Some send these automatically, others will need an annual request.

  • You should have kept share dividend statements throughout the year.

    The taxman's own guide sent with the form will help you answer the questions, but some people will need professional help.

    tax return
    Complete the form by 30 September to avoid more work
    An accountant typically charges 100 an hour - a costly way of getting the form done - but the self-employed or anyone who lets out property may find it useful to list tax-deductable items.

    It's a good idea to volunteer any extra information to reduce the chances of a tax investigation.

    Finally, it may seem obvious but remember to sign and date the form - many forms are returned each year because people forget.

    If you owe less than 1,000, you can pay it over the following year, via the Pay As You Earn scheme, as your tax code will be adjusted.

    More than 1,000 and you will need to send the cheque in by the end of January.

    Gerry Hart
    Gerry Hart: Ask how your bill was calculated
    Gerry Hart, of tax specialists H&R Block, said anyone receiving an unexpected tax bill should ask for a breakdown of the calculations as the Revenue computers can make mistakes.

    Advisers from ie taxguard want the complicated system to be reformed.

    A spokesman said: "Penalising consumers for not understanding an overly-complicated tax system is inappropriate."

    Sadly for anyone who does not get the form back in time, the taxman does not accept excuses. The only reason the Revenue will consider is bereavement, and even then you might be asked for details of your relative's death.

  • See also:

    12 Jul 99 | Business
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