The end of the 09/10 tax year was 5th April 2010 and, if you are a sole trader, your tax return covering the period from 6th April 2009 to 5th April 2010 is due online by 31st January 2011. This is only a few weeks away now, but don’t panic! Here is a list of what you will need to complete your tax return in confidence.

1. Personal information – make sure you have your Unique Taxpayer Reference to hand. You can find this at the top of any tax returns or correspondence sent to you by HMRC. You will need this to register with the government gateway, if you haven’t already done so, which will then enable you to register with HMRC’s online services. Go to www.hmrc.gov,uk and select Do it online, Register to get started. Then you will be able to start completing your tax return online.

2. Tick all types of income you receive. In the tax return, HMRC will ask you whether you are employed, self-employed and whether you have any other income. Make sure you tick all the ones relevant to you as this will trigger the pages generated by HMRC for you to complete.

3. Other relevant information. Make sure you notify HMRC on the tax return of any other relevant information such as whether you are still paying off a student loan, and whether you make gift aid contributions or pension contributions as this may affect the amount of tax you pay.

4. Complete the self-employment pages of the tax return. Hopefully you will have maintained a cash book throughout the year to record your income and outgoings. If you need any help, checkout my blog on “What is a cash book” at http://wp.me/pFxuo-18. Use this to complete the turnover and expenses section of the tax return. Note that if your turnover is below £30k you will not need to provide a breakdown of every expense, but can just put in a total.

5. Compare your income and expenditure to your bank statements. This is much easier if you have a bank statement purely for business. Basically you need to check your cash book against your bank statement to look for any income or expenditure you may have missed, such as bank charges.

6. Deduct any disallowable expenses. You need to look carefully at what you are claiming to make sure it is for business purposes. Make sure you are not claiming any drawings, class 2 NICs, tax, gifts, subsistence, entertaining or clothes. Also, take out any personal use of any items, such as phones, etc,.

7. Make sure you claim all the expenses you are entitled to. On the flipside, don’t forget about claiming for the costs of working from home, your phone costs, mileage and any pre-trading expenditure you incurred.

8. Make sure you allocate any brought forward losses. If you made a loss in 08/09, make sure you include it on your tax return so that it goes into the tax calculations and reduces your tax. You might also need to make a manual adjustment for any class 4 losses you have suffered.

9.Check the tax payable. HMRC’s software will automatically calculate the tax you owe which will be due on 31st January. If the tax payable is over £1k, you will also be asked to make payments on account in respect of the coming tax year. Make sure you check it all looks reasonable, and if it doesn’t, give HMRC or your accountant a call to find out why.

10. Submit it by 31st January. Once you have checked your tax return thoroughly, submit the tax return well before the 31st January. It is not uncommon for HMRC’s systems to get overloaded the closer to the deadline you leave it, so to make sure you don’t miss the deadline and get a £100 fine, file your return as early as you can.

If you would like any advice in this area or any other areas of accounting or tax, please contact me on 01767 260282 or [email protected], www.tayloraccountancy.net.

Amy Taylor Accountancy takes every care in preparing material to ensure that the content is accurate and up to date. However no responsibility for loss to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of this material can be accepted by Amy Taylor Accountancy You should always ask your accountant to give you specific advice which is tailored to your personal and business circumstances and properly implemented.