If you have a self assessment tax return to complete, you should know that the deadline is looming up ahead of you – 31st January 2016 is the last day to submit your return online without incurring a penalty fine.
Ideally, your tax return will already be winging its way to HMRC, but we know what it’s like – when you’re running a business there are plenty of other things to be thinking about other than your tax return (and if it really is something you don’t want to do, you can always get advice from your accountant!).
Leaving your taxes until the last minute might sound like a great idea in the beginning, but it really is only putting off the inevitable, and the longer you leave it, the more arduous the task will seem.
We’ve got a few hints and tips about how to prepare for next year to ensure that you get your self assessment tax return in well ahead of time, allowing you to concentrate on your business, and enjoy the festive period without the idea of getting that return done nagging at you.
Get It Done Early
If possible. And really, it’s always possible. You don’t have to hit the submit button until the last minute, but if you get everything together, fill in the forms, and make sure you’ve done your sums right, you’ll find it all a lot easier. If you’re the type of person to enjoy a double check – or even a triple check – then get it completed, leave it to one side, and go through it as many times as you want before taking that final click.
This needs to start now so you’re ready to sort your tax return in 2017. It may sound like a long way away, it may sound as though you’ve got loads of time, but it will come round quickly and you don’t want to be scrambling for your receipts and invoices and bank statements with just hours to spare.
One way to ensure you keep everything neat and tidy is to create a spreadsheet that details your outgoings and incomings, and keep a running total of your turnover. Plus, invest in some ring binders or archive boxes so you can keep every scrap of paper in chronological order.
Make sure you know the important dates when it comes to tax and business throughout the year. Why not buy a large wall planner and mark the deadlines on it? You’ll see it everyday and know when you should be working towards something.
Make A Backup
Whatever you do, make backups. Get an external hard drive or large enough thumb drive to make a copy of everything, and keep that somewhere safe (such as, strangely enough, a safe). Imagine what would happen in your laptop was stolen or simply decided not to work one day (it happens, believe me) and the only record of your taxes was saved on its hard drive. Imagine if there was a fire and all your receipts were burned to ashes. By keeping copies (including copies of your paperwork – scan it all, take photos on your phone and email it to yourself to save on a cloud somewhere – you can make sure everything is safe.