When you start your business, HMRC will want to know. Although Companies House automatically notifies HMRC when a company is formed, you are responsible for paying your own tax and National Insurance contributions. To do this, you must register for self assessment and complete your own tax return each year. For those unfamiliar with the process, this can seem stressful, but this guide aims to make things as simple as possible for you.
You can register for self assessment online – the process is slightly different depending on whether you’ve sent a tax return before or not. If you don’t want to register online, you can also print a registration form and post it to HMRC. Full details on the registration process are available here.
You must be registered by 5th October in your business’s second tax year or you may be fined. The deadline for paper tax returns is usually October 31st after the end of the tax year, whilst the deadline for online tax returns and paying the tax you owe is usually January 31st after the end of the tax year. Tax years are April to April and there are penalties for missing deadlines.
To file your tax return, sign into the online account using the ID and password you created when you first registered for self assessment or set up your online HMRC account. The website then walks you through the tax return step-by-step and it is possible to save your tax return and come back to it at a later date if necessary.
Remember: If this is your first time sending a tax return, allow at least 20 extra working days to send your return as you will need to register first
From the very moment you start your business, you should be keeping records. Besides information regarding business income and outgoings, you will need to track any information regarding income from any employment, expense records, benefit records and income from things such as employee share schemes.
HMRC offers a number of options for paying your tax bill, including a budget payment plan. For same or next day payments, you are able to use online or telephone banking, debit or credit card, the bank or a building society or the Post Office. You will need a paying in slip from HMRC to pay at a Post Office, bank or building society.
For further information, visit the UK government’s self assessment website and read our guide on preparing for your self assessment tax return in good time.