2014 is drawing to a close and the new year is nearly upon us. For the UK taxpayer and small, non incorporated businesses that means tax returns are due. Yes, the date that you have to file your self-assessment tax returns, 31st January, looms.
For some this may not be a problem; you may have even filed your return already. But for many there may be a hint of panic and stress creeping in. Those that have not kept their accounting records as well as they might will be scrabbling to assemble all of their vouchers, invoices and bank statements in preparation for long sessions of bookkeeping over the coming sixty days. The annual Christmas festivities don’t help either; they either result in a compressed time period in which to prepare your books or they mean that you have to take time away from your family at a key time for familly life, in order to complete the task. Other may be scrabbling to get their records to their accountant for them to prepare their accounts and returns for them.
For those that are in this predicament, two words of advice: start now! Bookkeeping and keeping accurate records takes time. Allow yourself plenty of time to find receipts and invoices or get copies, to reconcile bank statements and record and analyse income and expenditure. In addition, if you are using an accountant to produce your accounts and tax return, many charge at a premium the nearer to the deadline you provide them with the information they need. Then there is the HMRC website. This inevitably has problems dealing with the large volume of people leaving their returns until the last moment and, indeed, it has been known to crash on the 31st January. All this could lead to you incur penalties, which are not insignificant.
So, get started and prepare those accounts before Christmas. For those filing their own self assessment return, make sure that you have all of the relevant information to hand before starting. For those who use an accountant (they have probably been nagging you for some time now), get the information to them in early December and give them a chance. And, next year, try keeping your records up to date throughout the year. This not only means that you don’t have to panic aroung Christmas time, but you get the benefit of timely information as well (see my article about keeping records) And, if you find bookkeeping difficult or don’t have time, take a look at this.
Until next time.