Tax deadlines have a nasty habit of suddenly looming. Whether you’re waiting until the last minute to file your Self-Assessment, or you have another VAT deadline on the horizon.
Fortunately you can keep track of your tax return documents without feeling frazzled about lost paperwork. Read our article to help you refresh your organisational skills, and conquer those tax demons once and for all!
Simple day to day tips for keeping track of business records
If you have bad habits when it comes to sorting out your tax paperwork, you’re not alone. It’s never too late to change though, so take the time to ensure you’re on track, and make the next tax return a doddle.
Set aside one hour at the end of the week to gather together all your records. Transfer them on to a digital system and record all your income and outgoings.
Try to keep your receipts all in one place, such as a folder or bag. Or, go one step further, and record them all by taking a photograph. In Pandle you can even upload the photo to your bookkeeping, and attach it to the transaction record!
It’s also useful to:
- Take back-up scans of key documents such as your VAT certificate and UTR number, and store them in the cloud so you don’t lose them.
- Mark down all your important tax deadlines on a calendar, and set reminders at least one month, one week, and one day before.
Take a deep breath! If you act now you won’t need to dig everything out in one day. Challenge yourself to do just ten minutes each day, and you’ll soon be in a much better place.
The Types Of Documents You Need for Your Tax Return
If you’re overwhelmed, or it’s your first time acquainting yourself with HMRC, you might not even know where to begin. So let’s review some of the key documents you’re going to need to get on top of.
You know those little paper dockets that live at the bottom of your bag? Sometimes they’re stuffed in a pocket, or make it into the footwell of your car. Either way, it’s high-time you gather them up ready for your tax return.
Staying organised with receipts is no simple feat. We’re all prone to crumpling them up and putting them somewhere safe, only to become a problem for future you. (Although we did mention taking photographs…).
Invoices are another record that’s essential for tax returns, yet easy to lose track of. Create a template. Print it out. Post it. Mark it as paid. File it away. It’s enough to drive even the most meticulous of us mad.
Invoices sometimes need to be kept for years. It can lead to reams of paper being stuffed in to cabinets, all taking up precious space.
You might use email to send invoices, or accounting software to issue digital invoices with a few clicks.
It’s hard to measure the cathartic joy of having all your invoices automatically organised into a digital system for you, but we promise, it’s pretty miraculous.
Each invoice will be automatically recorded into your bookkeeping, and you’ll also get the satisfaction of being more environmentally friendly.
Other information for tax returns
As well as keeping records of transactions and the paperwork which backs them up, you might also need other key information. The exact requirements will depend on what type of tax return you’re submitting, such as a Self Assessment, or VAT return.
- Your UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference).
- VAT registration number.
- Details of any other untaxed income, including dividends from companies, income from self-employment and interest gained on shares.
- Records of any other self-employment expenses and how you calculated them.
- Records of contributions to charity or pensions.
- Your P60 end of year certificate, to prove any other taxed income.
- Details of any changes to Directors, Shareholders and Company Secretaries.
- Records of any Debentures (Agreements to creditors logged against your company assets).
- A record of any Indemnities (Promises of financial liability by the company should the company by at fault for something going wrong).
- Records of share purchases.
- Any loans or mortgages secured against the company’s assets.
It’s also essential that your business keeps records of any Coronavirus grants or loans it receives. Some, but not all, of these financial help schemes are taxable.
Even if a document can’t be stored in your particular accounting system, take a scan of it and store it in the cloud.
There are also apps online or for download, which encrypt smaller amounts of essential data, such as your NI number, UTR and company number. Try Keeper or CoverMe for a start.
Making Tax Digital
It goes without saying that it’s better to be on top of your record keeping at all times. Even more so as HMRC continues moving towards digital accounting and Making Tax Digital.
In a drive to bring record-keeping up-to-date and make tax more efficient, HMRC launched Making Tax Digital back in 2019.
This is because HMRC believe, quite rightly, that digital accounting software is significantly more accurate, and presents much less room for error.
HMRC are also looking to April 2022 to launch MTD rules for all businesses, including those with a taxable turnover of less than £85,000.
So if you’re thinking about making the move to accounting software, there’s no time like the present!
Keeping on top of your records ready for the tax deadline can be a real pain without the proper tools. So remember, regularly review, stay ahead of deadlines, and move to a digital system – small steps to a big change!
Pandle is, and always will be, free digital accounting software. Create your account today.