If you are uncertain whether you need to submit a tax return to HM Revenue & Customs, it is worth checking to be sure.
If you fail to file a return when you should have, it could prove costly.
Generally speaking, if you’re employed or retired and your tax affairs are straightforward – for example, your only income is from your work or pension – you probably won’t have to register for self-assessment.
Ten common tax self-assessment mistakes...
Who has to register for tax self-assessment?
If you receive other untaxed income such as rent from buy-to-let property, dividends from a company you run or capital gains from investments, you will probably have to sign up.
The same applies if you are self-employed or if you earn more than £100,000 a year.
This page on the government website will help you check whether or not you need to file an annual return.
It is possible to complete your own self-assessment return online on the HMRC website.
How to find an accountant for self-assessment
But many people, in particular those who do not feel confident filing their own paperwork or who think their tax situation is especially complex, opt for help from an accountant. So how do you go about finding one?
One of the simplest methods is to get a recommendation from colleagues, friends or relatives.
Alternatively you can contact a professional body such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
A search on the internet will also produce names of many companies and online services offering to help file your self-assessment return. These may work out cheaper but will not always offer the same level of expertise as formally accredited accountants.
If your tax affairs are particularly complicated, consider looking for an accountant who has experience dealing with the specific issues that you face.
For example, they may already have clients who work in the same industry as you.
How much will you pay?
Prices for this kind of service can be as low as £100, but you should expect to pay typically between £150 and £300.
Talk to the accountant in advance of signing up to see whether you could be liable to any extra charges, for example for advice on claiming expenses.
Once you have chosen an accountant, you need to authorise them to act on your behalf: this involves filling in form 64-8 with HMRC. It can be downloaded here.
How to complete your self-assessment form online...