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Five self assessment mistakes and how to avoid them

Any errors in your tax self-assessment can prove costly, so it is worth bearing the following in mind:

1. Forgetting to sign and date your tax return

According to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), this very obvious error is one of the commonest reasons for a tax return to be rejected. However, there are a few ways to avoid such mistakes.

The first one is to leave yourself plenty of time to complete your return. When there is no need to rush, you are less prone to making errors and can take your time to check it. Go through your return with the HMRC guide provided with the self-assessment and triple check everything. Then get someone else to check it for you.

2. Failing to complete supplementary pages

Another common mistake is the failure to add supplementary pages that are needed. In some cases, people remember to tick the box indicating that a supplementary page is necessary but then forget to include it.

One way of avoiding such errors is to make a list, before completing your tax return, of all your different sources of income during the tax year. Then, following the HMRC guide, make a note of any income source that needs a supplementary page, so that you don’t forget to include it.

3. Entering the wrong figures or failing to provide them

Some people fill in the boxes on their self-assessment form with words instead of the required figures, including statements such as “information to follow”. However, they do not realise that HMRC will not accept this and the result is a rejected tax return.

Incorrect figures can be problematic, as if the errors are considered deliberate you will be penalised. Ensure that you allow enough time to check your completed return before sending it in and, if still unsure, get someone else, preferably a professional, to help you.

4. Missing the deadline

Every year there are people who miss the self-assessment deadline, meaning that HMRC will impose a financial penalty. Paper tax returns must be sent to HMRC by October 31st, following the end of the relevant tax year. Those who carry out self-assessment online have a little longer to submit their completed forms, with the deadline being January 31st.

To ensure that you don’t miss these important dates, mark them prominently in your diary and on calendars. If you miss the first deadline, delaying further can lead to yet more fines from HMRC.

5. Forgetting to pay tax owed

If you complete your tax return correctly and hand it in on time, you may well breathe a sigh of relief. However, it would be a mistake to think that the self-assessment process is now complete.

HMRC will now inform you of any tax that you owe and let you know the date by which it must be paid. Failing to pay by the due date will lead to HMRC adding interest to the original amount, so it is important to stick to the required deadline. Again, highlighting the date in your diary and on calendars is essential. If you hire an accountant, he or she can guide you through the self-assessment process and ensure that you meet your deadlines.

Posted by Louise
June 27, 2014

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