Guest blog by Flow Online Accounting

Let’s face it, the last thing we want to be doing after a nice relaxing Christmas break is taking a look at our taxes – however, it has to be done! The self-assessment deadline of January 31st 2015 is looming and it can prove to be quite a stressful time of year for a lot of businesses. With this in mind here some tips to help you with your self-assessments:Flow B-W - Registered

Don’t leave everything to the last minute

Nothing will induce stress more than a last minute scramble to complete your tax return. Do not leave it until the 31st January 2015. Plan well in advance; keep a visible list of all your deadlines throughout the year and then next to them highlight a date a few weeks prior when you will actually start your self-assessment. Remember that you don’t have to do it all in one go; you can save your work as you go along before a final submission, so the process doesn’t have to be one big daunting task that you keep putting off. By leaving your return to the last minute you are inevitably running the risk of a late return and increasing your chance of incurring penalties.

Remember to save your self-assessment once completed

Once you have actually completed your tax return it is important to remember to save it or to make a copy. The HMRC imposes fines of up to £3,000 for each tax year that records have not been kept for – you need to keep records for up to 6 years previous otherwise you will face these penalties if you get investigated.

Know what to include

One of the biggest difficulties people face when filing their self-assessments is knowing exactly what to include. HMRC does try and offer help through webinars, their website and recently their twitter feed – but it can still be very confusing. For instance many people may not know that they need to include records of business income not yet received or even unpaid costs for their tax year. If it is your first time filing a return it can be difficult to know what to record, which means you could make an error.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Few things can be more frustrating than knowing you have a big task to do, but having no idea how to do it. You can waste days by worrying about starting your tax return and procrastinating before you actually focus on the task in hand. Why not avoid this? Get professional help if you need it, it will be far more efficient to pay for an accountant to file your tax return than spend weeks of your time trying to complete one if you have no idea what you are doing – also by working with an accountant you will minimise the risk of errors and any potential penalties that may come with them.

Make life easier for yourself by using software to stay on top of your accounts

One great way of avoiding the panic and stress of doing your self-assessment is to get your accounts in order throughout the year. Have a systematic approach where you stay on top of your accounts regularly and not just when there is a deadline looming. For instance, using KashFlow cloud accounting software to upload all of your invoices or receipts each month, will make it infinitely easier for you to go back through your activity logs and make your self-assessment much more simplistic in the long run.

These are just some basic tips to help you prepare for your tax return, if you do encounter any problems with your online return – or if you have any other tax related questions then please do get in touch with Flow Online Accounting, and one of their fully qualified accountants will be available to help.

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