Tuesday 23rd July 2024

New year: new tax return resolutions!

Tax Return

I have a confession to make. On New Year’s eve I had intended to go out, drink a bit, drag my fiancé out to see the New Year in with an old friend, and everything else that you might expect to do to bring 2016’s season of festivities to a close. Instead, what did I do? I stayed in and completed my tax return. To my pleasant surprise, HMRC appears to have sped this process up quite a bit for small businesses like mine, meaning that, instead of the hour and a bit that I had allotted to this arduously boring task, it took no longer than 15 minutes. I can now proudly say that I have completed my tax return for 2015-2016 a whole month earlier than the January 31st deadline – hurrah!

Now, onto the fun bit. These are my 2017 New Year tax resolutions (perhaps I should be making these on April the 6th instead?):

Get more orderly with receipts

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I’m looking at my purse now, and it’s literally bulging with receipts. These are important, and need to be filed away as soon as possible! It’s no good letting these accumulate and get tatty in your purse – straighten them out, staple them together in batches of months and order of dates – otherwise, if you get a surprise visit from the tax man, you’re in trouble! Here are some more handy tips for dealing with receipts.

Record innings and outing as they happen

I used to be very good at this, I don’t know when I started to let it slip. Opening up an Excel spread sheet to update it with £3-10 worth of income may seem incredibly boring and not at all worth while, but you’re saving yourself from a hefty (even more boring) task in the future. When I first started, I used to think of tax records like doing the dishes; you could wash them up as they get dirty, taking a couple of minutes tops or you could wait a week and see them pile up, get rancid, and it takes you a minimum of half an hour – which would you prefer?

Don’t do it at the last minute

Although, in my two years of filling out tax returns, I have never left it until the last minute on January the 31st, I did fill mine out later this year. A good practice, I think, would be to fill it out in April – then it’s off your mind for a whole year and a half!

Make more money

I believe this point is improving; I’ve almost hit 100 sales in my Etsy shop, managed to licence out my first card design, and have found new streams of income – I just need to keep on working on it!

Especially if it’s your first time, filling out a tax return can be very daunting indeed. Luckily HMRC provides constant support and Webinars to help you along if you get stuck.

Maddy Sutherland

Maddy is a freelance illustrator who lives in Glasgow. She's recently graduated and is working hard to make ends meet. Self-employed? Read Maddy's experiences here.

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