That fateful time of year is coming… you may not have even started your Christmas shopping yet, but we naturally can’t help to look ahead to one of our busiest periods – self-assessment deadline week. Somehow the 31st January always manages to sneak up on you quickly, but doing your self-assessment can be a doddle if you go in prepared.
Here are our tips to ensure the self-assessment process is as simple and stress-free as possible.
Nail your filing system
This might come a little too late if your idea of a filing system is a big pile of paperwork on an unused chair, but still, having everything in the same place is a good start. It doesn’t have to be a sophisticated system, and these days, most records will be digital, but having to scrabble around finding crumpled bits of paper and receipts in various locations is not going to make your job any easier. Start gathering now, and you’ll be grateful by the time next month arrives.
Use accounting software
If you’re rubbish at maths, have complicated accounts or don’t know where to start in Excel, investing in accounting software can make doing your books a breeze when the time comes. With something like Quickbooks Online, you can link it to your bank account, invoices and even your POS system if you have one, so it does all the boring and time-consuming data entry work for you without the danger of human error.
Accounting software will also be essential when Making Tax Digital goes live – for most VAT registered businesses this’ll be in April 2019, and for individuals it’s estimated to be 2020.
Start in good time
We know that for most businesses, the period before Christmas probably isn’t going to be the best time to take some time out to crunch the numbers. And for many, January is a good time to work out how your business did over the festive period. So while you might not want to get started during the Christmas rush, do leave a good couple of weeks, at the very least, before the self-assessment deadline to allow for any emergencies. Realising you’ve lost your Government Gateway log-in details the day before will not do your stress levels (or your wallet – the fine for late submissions is £100) any favours. And, as any last-minute old hand can tell you, the website can grind almost to a standstill on the day itself as it struggles to deal with the rush of traffic.
Brush up on your knowledge
The finer points of tax law change all the time – from the rules themselves to amounts to expenses – what was a given last year may not be the same this time around. Thankfully there are loads of great resources to help you. From the Government’s website, to YouTube videos and web forums, there’s no excuse for ignorance. HMRC’s own helpline has a great reputation, but prepare to be waiting on hold for a long time for the entire month of January…
Get someone else to do it
Of course if it all gets too much, you can make the choice to outsource your accounts, dump a pile of paperwork on the professionals and let them do what they do best. You get to spend that time doing something else, and with any luck the fees you’ll pay will be offset by the tax savings that decades of expertise can bring!
Let us take the hassle out of doing your self-assessment – get in touch now!