Top Tips for Last Minute Tax Returns

So it’s that time of year once again where we are really quickly approaching the Self Assessment filing deadline of 31st January.  Despite all of our best intentions there are still some of us that haven’t filed our returns.  In fact there’s still some of us that haven’t even got the paperwork out to have a look!  There is one thing that you can be certain of.. when you actually bite the bullet and ‘do’ your return it won’t be as bad as you expected, so come on, get it done.  Don’t be one of the estimated 870,000 people that were late last year, got fined £100 and helped HMRC receive a massive £87 million pound overnight windfall in late filing penalties.

If you’re one of the smug people that got organised and filed early congratulations, this blog isn’t for you but I’d say still read it as you may find some good tips for next years return or you may realise that you need to amend your return (sorry but you might!)

This blog is all about the biggest ‘things’ we’ve seen with tax returns this year, the things that our clients have struggled the most with, the things that have caught them out and the things that they have asked us questions about..

Government Gateway Login and Password

This is a biggie and it catches people out EVERY year.  We always get a few panicked phone calls from people that have got their information ready to file but can’t find their log in details and haven’t got time to request copies as they are sent through the post and can take 7 days to arrive.

So.. dig out your login details NOW.  Even if you haven’t got your information ready to file, just log in and check that everything is working.  If it isn’t you still have time to receive the information from HMRC through the post.

Own Consumption

With so many people in our area running B&B’s, Guest Houses, Pubs, Nursing Homes etc.. own consumption is a question that is raised quite frequently.

If you take items from stock for your own consumption then you must make an adjustment for this.  If for example you run a pub and you drink a pint of beer then you must make an adjustment for your ‘own consumption’ of basically what is a business asset.  And the jaw dropper is that this adjustment must be at the selling price (Yes, the price that you charge your customers) and not your cost price.

There is also ‘own consumption’ of your utilities and other items that need to be taken into account.  For instance if you live above the pub or in the guest house then a proportion of your ‘bills’ are actually for your own consumption.  Now HMRC have some fixed rates for making these adjustments for the industries above, sometimes these work out well but you can use actual figures but only if you have kept good and accurate records. 

Private Use

You must make adjustments for Private Use of vehicles.  If you use your vehicle personally and for business then you need to ‘disallow’ a proportion of your running costs.  You also need to disallow a proportion of your Capital Allowance Claim (Ask us – that’s not something I can explain in a paragraph!)

Use of Home

If you are self employed and you work from home then you can claim for costs that are incurred for business purposes.  In addition to that you can also claim for a ‘proportion’ of the cost of running your home.  These costs include your utilities (heat, light and water), insurance, council tax, rent and it also includes repairs to your house and your rent.  If you own the property then you can include mortgage interest (not the capital repayment part). 

HMRC do have fixed rates that you can use, currently that is £208 per year and this is for minor use of your home for business.  There are also flat /fixed rates for use of home that are based on the number of hours that you work at home ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purposes of the trade.  25-50 hours per month you can claim £10 per month, 51-100 hours £18 per month and 101+ hours £26 per month.

The full calculation to work it out the actual proportion can be quite complicated.  It basically looks at the number of rooms in your house and the percentage that is used for business and the amount of time that you spend working on your business in your house and gives you a percentage of your home running costs that you can claim for. 

Whilst this calculation is more difficult than just putting a flat rate number in the correct box we often see that it is really worth your while to take the time to do it.


You may be able to use estimates if some of your figures aren’t available but you need to make sure that you tell HMRC that you have used estimates/provisional figures by ticking the right box on your tax return.  You do need to be careful doing this as there is a high risk of penalties for not following the rules.

White Space

There’s more and more ‘white space’ on Tax Returns these days and we constantly get asked what they are for!  Yes, they are there so that you can give HMRC more details about the numbers on your return.

You should be very careful about what you write in these boxes.  We’ve seen some cracking comments full of humour but you need to keep it factual.  Whatever you write in these boxes is actually considered to be part of your tax return and you are liable for a penalty if any of the information is incorrect..  Exactly the same as if you put an incorrect number in one of the boxes


Don’t forget that brought forward losses can be used.  Sideways relief is available, for instance if you make a loss on one activity and a profit on another then you may be able to set one off against another.  Likewise you may be able to carry back losses for 3 years and get a refund on tax that you paid in previous years if you are in the first 4 years of trading.

Don’t forget though that there is a Sideways Relief ‘Cap’ of £50,000 (don’t stop reading here as the next bit is important!) OR 25% of adjusted net income of a Sole Trader.

And finally don’t forget about any Capital Losses that you may be carrying forwards.  It’s easy to do so as you don’t use them until a relevant Capital Gain occurs


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If you have any questions then please get in touch

And please be aware that this is ‘general’ information designed to give you a quick overview and this information may not apply to everyone in every circumstance so please do your own due diligence or take professional advice and do not rely on it