January is the time of year typically heralded by New Year’s Resolutions, exercise, diets, and turning over a new leaf. But if you’re self-employed, there’s something else that comes to mind in January: your taxes.
Yes, tax season is now upon us, and self-assessment tax returns need to be filed online with HM Revenue & Customs by 31 January (the deadline for filing paper returns was 31 October 2012). If you haven’t done it yet, it will come as some comfort that you’re not the only one, and getting all your forms filled out on time won’t be the most impossible task (you may need to pour yourself a coffee, though).
In order to file a tax return you need a Unique Tax Reference (UTR). You should have received one of these when you registered as self-employed. If you can’t find it then have a look on your “Notice to Complete a Tax Return”, or your Statement of Account – failing that you can call HMRC on 0845 300 0627 and request them to send you a copy in the post.
If you’re more punctual than everyone else, and you filed your tax return before the deadline, don’t worry. You won’t have to pay any of the tax you owe any earlier. Once you have filed your tax return you have until 31 January the following year to go in and make any corrections. So, if you suddenly discover that you could have claimed more expenses against your profits, or that you put your new computer in the wrong box on your tax return, you have the opportunity to fix it.
Remember, if you file your tax return late then you will have to pay an automatic penalty of £100, even if you don’t owe any tax. And that’s just for starters – penalties and interest will increase the later you file, and it can rack up pretty high, so get it sorted as promptly as possible.