With two months to go until the self-assessment deadline, HMRC has been posting out reminders to those who have yet to undertake this. But those who still have to submit a return need not rush it; indeed, there may be good reason to be careful.
While the return is a legal requirement and a late return could end up in a fine, it is important not to act with haste, but to first check carefully whether you can claim back anything against tax to reduce your eventual bill, especially if you are newly self-employed or your circumstances have changed. Tax accountants in Manchester can help you with this.
A central point relates to allowable expenses. These are certain necessary expenses related to your work that can be deducted from turnover. The government’s own website defines an example of this as where a business has a turnover of £40,000, but £10,000 go on expenses, leaving £30,000 as the taxable profit.
The list of these includes things like travel costs, employee salaries, insurance and bank charges, stationary, work clothing and equipment, the cost of stock to sell on and running costs like energy bills.
You may also claim back costs for working from home, which more people will have done out of necessity due to lockdowns meaning shared workspaces and locations like libraries and coffee shops were off limits. This can include things like electricity bills and internet use, although you must show how this is divided up, for example the proportion of electricity use caused by working at home.
While you can get rebates for these things, it is also important to be aware about scams on the subject.
Which? has published a warning that scammers will use this time of year to send texts and emails claiming to be from HMRC and providing a rebate. These will ask for personal details that the criminals will then use in other fraudulent activity.
Other scams include phone calls telling people they owe money to HMRC and must pay up immediately to avoid arrest.
Any official contact from HMRC will always come by post.