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Guide to the paper self-assessment tax form

A self-assessment tax form or tax return is a legal document required by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that records any tax you’re liable to pay. Generally, employees under the PAYE system do not need to fill in a tax form as this is recorded by the system. However if you are self-employed or have multiple or complex sources of income, you will need to declare this information yourself. There are two ways to fill out a form, either on paper or online. In this week’s article we focus on filling in a tax return in paper form.

If you are interested in filling in an online version of the form, then visit our online self -assessment tax form page.

Before you can fill in a self-assessment tax form, you will need to register with HMRC. Make sure you register as soon as your circumstances change, as you may have to pay a late fee if you register on or after 5 October following the end of the relevant tax year. (The tax year runs from 6 April until 5 April the following year.)

Once HMRC has received the necessary information, you’ll be sent a Unique Taxpayer Reference which you will need in order to fill in your tax return. The deadline for paper submissions is 31 October following the end of the tax year, and for online submissions, 31 January.

Who needs to fill in a self-assessment tax form?

You may need to send in a tax return if:

  • You’re self-employed
  • You made profits on the sale of chargeable assets such as property
  • You’re a company director
  • You’re employed but owe tax (and do not want to switch tax codes)
  • You’re earning more than £100,000 a year
  • You’re earning more than £50,000 and receiving child benefit
  • Your investment or savings are more than £10,000
  • Your untaxed investment and savings are more than £2,500
  • The HMRC can’t access tax through your tax code
  • You have lived or worked abroad

Check whether you need to fill in a self-assessment return on the Gov.UK website.

A quick step-by-step guide to filling in a paper self-assessment tax form

Step 1 First things first, collect all your financial records including your P60, P45, account documents, receipts, expenses, and bank statements so you have all the information you need to hand.

Step 2 Fill out your personal details at the beginning. You will then need to indicate which supplementary pages (for example self-employed, partnerships, foreign) apply to you.

Step 3 The next section will be about your main income, focusing on interest, dividends and UK pensions and benefits. Boxes 1-6 require you to provide information on interest you receive and dividend amounts. You can write down figures in whole pounds so you don’t need to include pennies – either rounding up or down will suffice. If any boxes do not apply to you, simply leave them blank. Boxes 7-15 ask for your pension and benefit details (for example job seeker’s allowance). If you need to declare other income that won’t be included elsewhere, use this section to provide details.

Step 4 You will then need to fill out the tax relief section and provide details of pension schemes you pay into. Don’t include payments from your employer or anything you pay into your employer’s pension scheme (which has been deducted from your pay before tax). If you have given money or gift aid to charity, you will be able to note down the information in boxes 5-12. If blind person’s allowance concerns you or your partner, you will need to supply information from boxes 13-16.

Step 5 In the next small section, you will only need to fill in boxes if you are paying off student loans. You will need to state how much has been deducted by your employer.

Step 6 The following section ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’ only needs to be filled out if your income is over £50,000 and you or your partner received child benefit after 7 January 2013.

Step 7 If you have provided services through a service company (for example, for a third party client) you will need to declare the total dividends and amount of pay you withdrew from the company.

Step 8 The final section of the form states that HMRC will be able to calculate the tax payable (if there is any) if you send in the tax return by 31 October. They will then let you know before 31 January whether you will need to pay tax (and how much). There are boxes to fill in if you have had an income tax refund or you haven’t paid enough tax. If you have overpaid tax, you can request a repayment by filling out your bank details.

If you have a tax adviser, you can also fill in the details in this part.

Step 9 Finally, you will need to state whether you have included any estimated figures in the form. You can then sign and date the declaration.

To avoid paying a penalty, you must send in your paper tax return before 31 October. If you choose to fill in the form online (more on this next week), you have up until 31 January to complete it. You cannot file an online form if you have already sent in a paper tax return.

For more details on registering and filling in a self-assessment tax form correctly, visit HMRC’s section on tax returns.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Bridging loan rates are subject to change. Speak to our advisors for a loan illustration.