Filling in your tax return

Ten tips for paying tax

1. Confusingly, the tax year runs from 6 April to the following 5 April. The final deadline for payment and online returns is 31 January, some nine months later. So, for the 2017-2018 tax year you'll need to get it in by 31 January 2019. Otherwise you’ll be fined £100 and interest will be charged on your unpaid tax.

2. Will you have to pay tax? If your income in the year 2017-18 was below £11,500 then you won’t. Over that you will. You pay basic rate (20%) if you earn up to £45,000 in 2017-2018 (that's your £11,500 allowance plus £33,500) and 40% over that or 45% if you earn £150,000 plus. Check out rates for the 2017-18 year here.

3. If you’re a non-taxpayer or a taxpayer with a job – where tax is taken directly from your salary each month – then you might not have to worry about filling in a return or paying extra tax.

4. You’ll still have to fill in a tax return even if you’re on a low income if you’re self-employed or you’re renting out a property. Check with HMRC. You can use Twitter (@HMRCcustomers) for general tax inquiries.

5. Remember some benefits are taxable, and not at source, so you might have to pay tax on them. These include state pensions, bereavement allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.

6. It’s really important to check you have the right tax code. This is used by your employer to make sure it deducts the right amount of tax. For the current tax year (2017-2018) someone with one job probably has the tax code 1150L. That’s because the personal allowance for this year is £11,500 and the L means you’re entitled to the personal allowance.

7. Most people fill in tax returns online. To do that, you need to register with HMRC. Allow seven working days to get an activation code.

8. Before filling in the return, get your information together. You’ll need: your P60 from your employer (which shows how much you earned and how much tax and National Insurance was deducted from your salary); your P11D (which shows any employee benefits you got, such as a company car); details of savings/investments/pensions and any gifts you’ve made to charity.

9. What don’t you pay tax on? You won’t need to include details of any Isas you have. And now you can have up to £1,000 of income from savings tax-free. For your 2017-18 tax return, you can get up to £5,000 a year in share dividends without paying tax on them.

10. Tax returns aren’t just for income tax. If you’ve sold assets such as a second home (not your main residence) then you might have to pay capital gains tax and declare that on your return. If that’s the case, or if your affairs are at all complex, you should consider getting an accountant.


More stuff:

  • Find out about tax rates here.
  • Tax codes are explained here.
  • All too much for you? Look here for an accountant.


Last updated 8 January 2019.