TAX TIPS: You can't put off that DIY work any longer

The first of a series of occasional articles from tax specialists

Nostalgia and tax returns do not, at first sight, sit easily together. But being in the tax business I can reflect on the past and how it used to be in the "good old days". The ability to write on your tax return "to be advised", "see vouchers attached", "estimated", "see employer's return" was calculated to buy you a little more time and if you were very lucky those nice people in the Inland Revenue would do the work for you.

Unfortunately those days are past, self-assessment - the "simpler" tax system (who are they kidding) - is now with us. If you are one of those people who have completed their return and are now feeling rather smug then the rest of the article is not for you. Lesser mortals are just reaching one of the decision points of the tax year. Do you set aside that evening or Sunday morning to complete the return and get it to the Inland Revenue by 30 September? Or, do you leave it for the real deadline of 31 January next year?

For one group of people it is a very good idea to get tax returns in before 30 September. If you are employed and you find that you owe the taxman less than pounds 1,000 you may not have to pay this amount on the deadline next January if you file by 30 September. The taxman will probably adjust your tax code for next year and you will pay in monthly instalments over 12 months from April, a nice interest-free loan. The other reason for getting your tax return in now is that if you do, the taxman will calculate your tax bill for you. But the calculation is a bit of a doddle compared with working out what information the taxman needs, and he is not volunteering to do that part for you.

What if you don't do the calculation and send in the return after 30 September? The taxman will still do it for you, but he or she will not guarantee to do it in time to send you your bill in time for you to pay before the due date of 31 January. Moreover, if you don't pay enough off, you could end up with an interest charge.

Let us suppose that you have decided to get it in by 30 September. What should you do now?

Amass all those bits of financial paper - bank and building society statements, dividend vouchers, pension records. If you are employed, forms P60 and perhaps form P11D from your employer (or form P45 if you have changed jobs this year). If you are self-employed, records of business earnings and expenses.

Fill in page two of the form to check you have been sent all the right pages. If not, ring the taxman on 0645 000 404 (seven days a week 8am until 10pm).

Read the guidance notes (yes, there are a lot of them) and fill in the form in pencil.

If you are not sure, ring up your own tax office, or for a general inquiry you can use the self-assessment helpline on 0645 000 444, but be prepared to wait a bit as they are often engaged.

Finally, check the form, ink it in and remember to sign it.

Now send it off in time to get to the taxman by 30 September because if he does not get it by then, you know the consequences.

Looking at it another way, if you go to the trouble of putting it all together and then don't post it early enough you might as well have left it until Christmas. Now there is a thought.

John Andrews is president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and a partner in Coopers & Lybrand. The Chartered Institute of taxation will give a free list of tax specialists in your area. Tel: 0171-235 9381.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Yorkshire Building Society is a leading player in offsets

Offset mortgages: How to save thousands of pounds and reduce the term of your home loan

Offset mortgages make even more sense when savings rates are at rock bottom

A physiotherapist helps a patient – a service one ex-employee was denied after paying for it

Questions of Cash: I've been chased for a phantom debt. What can I do to stop it haunting my credit status?

An Independent reader received a letter stating that a debt with O2 had been sold to a firm called Lowell Financial for collection

My Travel Cash card charges a punitive 'inactivity' fee of €2.50 a month

Simon Read stored the card away for 24 months, which cost him €60

Renting from a rogue landlord? It’s time to know your rights

Some 125,000 tenants have been victims of abusive landlords in the past year

This year's models: buyers have plenty of options as they try to get the money together to drive away from the dealer in a new car

Car finance options: Best way to buy a 65 plate

Sales could find another gear as the '65' registration hits the forecourts next week. Rob Griffin looks at the finance options
In too deep? Travel cover is among the benefits offered by packaged bank accounts

Claims firms blamed as complaints soar over packaged bank accounts

Many customers complained they were switched to the accounts without their knowledge

Finger on the interest rate trigger: the Bank of England

The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums

Meanwhile, high-street lenders continue to cherry-pick and be more competitive on larger loans

China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'

The market plummeted this week, losing all the gains made for the year

Which? warns sports fans about Rugby World Cup ticket scams offers deals that may be too good to be true

Could it be the time to focus on Japan? Some believe the country has no choice but to boost consumption and the economy will get back on track

Investors told to travel the world in the search for higher returns

Assets have risen in value across the board and volatility isn't going away. Rob Griffin asks where we should put our cash
As rising house prices push up demand for renting, so tenants are having to dig deeper than ever

Starter home initiative is urgently needed as rents go through the roof

Rents in England and Wales rose by 1.9 per cent in July to an average of £804

Peer-to-peer lending rates put Nisas to shame

The returns from P2P providers look more attractive than ever

Questions of Cash: Log-in problems turned eDreams booking into one-way ticket to nowhere

The company failed to provide our reader's flight ticket - or a refund

Hot property: business has been booming in estate agents this month, even though it’s the height of the summer holiday season

Heat rises for mortgage deals as UK homeowners sense a rate hike coming

The housing market should go quiet in August but instead people have been acting like cheap loans won't last. Do we really have to rush, asks Simon Read
Phones have now overtaken personal computers as the most used way of accessing the internet

Who you gonna call? The Complaints Busters

Unhappy customers have been given their own Ombudsman to help fight for them.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

    £16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

    SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea