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Top tips for filing your online tax return

Your Money
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Your Money

If you don’t file your online tax return by 31st January you could face a fine. Get prepared with our handy guide.

With just two weeks to go until the deadline for submitting self-assessment tax returns online, many of you may be struggling to get the job done.

We have put together a list of helpful tips and advice to help make the task more bearable.

Do I need to complete a tax return?

Self-assessment is not just for self-employed people. If you fall under one of the following categories, you will need to complete a tax return too:

• You are self-employed

• You are a company director

• You are a minister of religion

• Your annual income is £100,000 or more

• You have income from letting any property or land you own

• You receive other untaxed income, or significant capital gains, and the tax due on it cannot be collected through a PAYE tax code

• You need to claim expenses or reliefs

• You or your partner receive Child Benefit and your income is over £50,000

• You are a member of Lloyd’s of London insurance and reinsurance market

• You receive annual income from a trust or settlement, or any income from the estate of a deceased person, and further tax is due on that income

• You have taxable foreign income, even if you are claiming that you are not normally resident in the UK.

• You are a trustee

When should I start the application process?

Now. You can only apply online if you have already registered. If you haven’t done this yet, you should do it now. It can take up to seven working days for HMRC to send you an activation code by post. The deadline to submit your tax return is the 31 January, so you need to start the application as soon as possible.

Don’t forget to activate your account. Normally you have to have activated the account within 28 days of receiving it; otherwise you have to request another one. In this case, you do not have 28 days.

To sign up click here.

Am I better off completing my tax return online?

Besides the fact you have missed the paper deadline, there are a number of benefits to completing your return online. The three-month extended deadline aside, submitting it online means you get an automatic tax calculation and faster repayment if the taxman owes you anything.

And as an added bonus, if you have sent it in online before, HMRC fills in all basic details for you into your personalised tax return form. It reacts to your answers and removes all unnecessary sections.

There’s also the relief of getting that reference number once you press submit. This leaves you free from worrying about whether or not your tax return is lost somewhere in the deep depths of snail mail.

I am a parent collecting Child Benefit. Why do I need to complete a form?

For the first time those who earn more than £50,000 a year and collect Child Benefit will have to complete a self-assessment return.

HMRC estimates that around 1.2 million families will be affected.

In the March 2012 Budget, the Government announced a new tax charge on couples with children where one partner earns more than £50,000, with the benefit being ‘clawed back’ through their self-assessment return if the parent had not elected to stop the payments. Those earning over £60,000 will effectively not receive any benefit, because the tax will be the same as their entitlement.

Parents affected by this new rule and who received child benefit between January and 5 April 2013, will have to pay some benefit back in the form of tax. Parents required to file an online self-assessment tax return will need to register with HMRC.