How to do your tax return yourself

The standard Self Assessment (SA) tax return

You don’t need a tax expert or an accountant to do a tax return for you, and there are a number of ways to handle this yourself.

  • The HMRC web site
  • Software designed for consumers
  • The original paper forms

Bear in mind though that if you get a Self Assessment (SA) tax return, you have an obligation in law to complete it and to submit it on time. And, if they don’t send you a return or if you don’t have a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) then they are not going to accept an SA return if somehow you try to force one on them.

The alternative – a Form R40

Some of you may know if you are missing out on tax reliefs and if that’s the case, then do a form R40 instead. The thing is, it does not have as many boxes as an ordinary SA tax return and so you may need to add a plain sheet of paper with any additional notes.

Download a form from here. Make sure you put your National Insurance number where it says reference, and when it’s complete, take a copy for yourself, and send it in (we recommend doing that by Recorded Delivery) to the Claims Unit. Include a covering letter and make sure that your National Insurance number appears on every single page that you send in:

HM Revenue & Customs

Leicester Claims Unit

1 Causeway Lane

Leicester

LE1 4AA

Give them between 4 to 6 weeks to deal with it and then chase them in writing. We are not saying that you must not phone them, but we know from experience that you are probably wasting your time phoning any HMRC number. If you have to send a written reminder then send it to the Leicester address, and again, use Recorded Delivery.

If 10 weeks have passed and you have had no response at all, prepare a second reminder (an Official Complaint), enclose a copy of the form R40 and both previous letters and send all of it to:

HM Revenue & Customs

Customer Operations Complaints Service

The Triad

Stanley Rd

Bootle

L75 1HP

We operate a two strikes and out policy – give the tax office two opportunities to do something, and then if they don’t, send in an official complaint. It’s the only way to ensure that things get done. And we do all this delicate stuff in writing, because (a) we cannot prove that a phone call took place and (b) if there is no UTR then there is no way to use the paperless system.

But I have to tell them about untaxed income!

Yes, you do!

Even if you don’t get a tax return, and you have tax to pay rather than reclaim, you have a legal duty to tell HMRC. Right – this is not easy – they are in a mess with perpetual restructuring of offices and workloads. It’s hard to have a general rule for which office to contact and we do not propose to cover every angle.

So, if you write a clear and concise letter saying what your untaxed income is and when it started that will be a good start. Then send it by Recorded Delivery to:

HM Revenue and Customs

Benton Park View

Newcastle Upon Tyne

NE98 1ZZ

That centralised post room gets thousands of letters every day and, routinely, they do not sign for Recorded Delivery letters, and sometimes not even Special Delivery letters. So how can you prove that they got the letter? With the letter, send them an old fashioned cheque for £1.00 and say so in the letter “I enclose a cheque in the sum of £1.00 as a payment on account”. Then when the cheque clears your bank account, you can be pretty sure that they got the letter that week!

Then if,  in the case of a letter not being signed for, you ever need to go before a tribunal or a judge you can still prove (a) when the letter was sent and (b) when HMRC banked your cheque.

Once you have told HMRC about your untaxed income, sit back and wait for them to send you an SA return.

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