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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Coping with tax self-assessment
By Chas Roy-Chowdhury
Head of taxation, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Chas Roy-Chowdury
Chas Roy-Chowdury shares his tax expertise

The deadline for filing paper tax self-assessment forms is the 30 September.

A tax expert shares his top tips for making light work of self-assessment tax forms.

The real key to meeting the deadline is that you have your books and records to hand with all the information up to date.

But also keep a cool head and work systematically through the process of completing the return.

The reason why 30 September is important to many people is because by submitting your return by that date you can be sure that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will calculate the tax liability for you.

If you submit the paper return after this date then HMRC might still be able to work out the tax for you but there are no guarantees.

Filling in a tax form is a bit like baking a cake - you need to make sure that you have all the ingredients ready before you start

For many people, with a small tax liability, it is especially important as an amount of tax owed which is below 2,000 can be collected through an employee's PAYE coding during the next tax year.

Clearly the spreading of the costs across a year is useful, especially as there is no interest charge or cost to the tax payer.

Be systematic

Filling in a tax form is a bit like baking a cake - you need to make sure that you have all the ingredients ready before you start.

Otherwise the end result will not be spot on. And the fact is it has to be absolutely right, there is no room for errors.

Before you start to complete the form, read through it and familiarise yourself with what goes where.

There is nothing worse than putting an entry for a particular income in the wrong place, and if you do not spot it and put it in the correct place then HMRC could well reject your return.

Rejection could mean you miss the 30 September deadline and may need to work out your own tax, as well as forego the opportunity to pay small amounts of tax owed through PAYE.

In terms of what you need for completing your tax return, ensure that you have all the pages you need.

Therefore, in addition to the basic return, you might need additional employment pages if you have more than one job or if you receive income from property you will need those pages.

If you have made gifts to charity do not forget to claim the higher-rate tax relief

The information you should have to hand, and this list is not by any means exhaustive, includes your P60 (if you are employed), your P45 (if you left a job during the tax year), and your P11D for any taxable expenses or benefits you may have had.

And if you have income from being self-employed you should have your bank statements and expense vouchers to hand.

Online filing

If you wish to file your tax return over the internet then you need to register with the HMRC site. This will take a few days.

In addition, if you are filing over the internet, then your tax is calculated automatically for you as a part of the filing process.

Hence the 30 September deadline for the tax calculation will not apply.

However, if you have a tax payment to make of below 2,000 and you wish that to be collected next year through your PAYE coding then you need to file by the end of December.

Some tips

The 30 September filing deadline is one which you should seek to meet where you may be in a tax rebate situation.

For instance, if you have just started trading in a new business and have made a loss then you can carry that back for up to three years against other income and recover the tax you paid.

If your new business is being run from home then do not forget to deduct all the appropriate deductions for a proportion of your household expenses which relate to the business.

If you have made gifts to charity do not forget to claim the higher-rate tax relief.

Before you finish make sure that you submit the full set of supplementary sheets that you say, on page 2 of the return, you have completed.

Finally sign and date the return and send it in. Then you can relax and put your feet up.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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