How to fill in a tax return

 

Jigsaw of tax returnIf you'd rather chew off your own arm than force yourself to fill in a tax return, then we can only empathise. Yes it's daunting, and yes, it seems unnecessarily complicated but, as plenty of Mumsnetters testify, HM Revenue & Customs helpline people really are very helpful, and it's not as complicated a process as it might at first appear.

"It's daunting the first time you do it. The first year I made an appointment at the tax office and took in all my stuff and they showed me how to fill it in." ClareVoiant 

Step one: get organised

Easier said than done if it's the day before your return is due, but being organised is the secret to your tax return being straightforward.

  • Keep paperwork that relates to your income, investments, savings and work-related expenses
  • Keep the stuff you need in files or folders that show their contents and the tax year they relate to

Achieve this and the form-filling will be (relatively) painless.

Step two: online or on paper?

Do you want to file your tax return on paper (the old-fashioned way) or online (the 21st century way). However much of a dinosaur you are (and you're not really, are you, if you're a Mumsnetter), filing online has many advantages - longer deadlines, 24-hour access and instant tax calculations.

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Gather together all your documents before you start: if you've been organised (see above), they'll be in neat files in your desk; if you haven't, you'll have to scramble round the house looking for them. Build the searching-for-lost-receipts time into the process.

Step three: stop prevaricating and fill in the form

A bit like reading all the exam questions, make sure you complete all the pages you're required to do so. And use the guidance notes, which pop up in a new window, or call the self-assessment helpline if you need to ask additional questions.

After you've filled in all the information requested, you can calculate how much tax you owe - if you're filing your return online, it will niftily be done for you automatically.

If the total of your income is more than your tax-free allowances, you'll pay tax on the difference.

Alternatively, step away...

If phrases such as 'non-returnable outgoings' make you feel physically ill, then it's time to find an accountant.

"The cost of this will almost certainly be absorbed by any tax savings you could achieve by obtaining professional advice. This will also give you peace of mind, and save you from unexpected tax bills." Melanie75

 

Disclaimer: Any content in our family money section is intended as general information only. For specific advice about your personal financial situation, get advice from qualified, independent, regulated professionals.

Last updated: 24-Feb-2012 at 12:37 PM