Five tips for self-assessment tax returns before deadline at end of January
NFU Mutual Chartered Financial Planner Sean McCann shares five top tips ahead of the January 31 deadline for submitting your tax return.
Don’t forget to claim higher rate tax relief on pension contributions
Sean said: “When you pay into your pension for every £80 you pay in, your pension provider will get another £20 direct from HMRC. If you pay 40% or 45% income tax you’ll need to claim the extra 20% or 25% tax relief via your tax return.
“Many higher and additional rate taxpayers do not do this, potentially missing out on thousands of pounds in unclaimed tax relief.
“If you haven’t claimed on previous year’s tax returns, you can go back up to four years and claim any higher rate relief due by contacting HMRC direct.”
You can claim it here: gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/income-tax-enquiries-for-individuals-pensioners-and-employees
Get help with the cost of professional subscriptions
Sean said: “If you need to be a member of a professional organisation to do your job, and your employer hasn’t paid the subscription for you, you may be able to claim tax relief on the cost. There is a long list of approved professional organisations on HMRC’s website.”
Available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/professional-bodies-approved-for-tax-relief-list-3
Watch out for the Child benefit tax trap
Sean said: “If you’re the highest earner in your household with an income of more than £50,000, and you or your partner claim child benefit, you’ll need to pay the child benefit tax charge. For every £100 of income you have over £50,000 you pay back one per cent of the child benefit. Once your income reaches £60,000 you repay the full amount.
“You can become subject to the charge if you moved in with someone who is claiming child benefit, even if they’re not your children. The good news is anything you’ve paid into your pension is knocked off your income before the charge is assessed. If it reduces your income below £50,000 you won’t need to pay the charge.
“Be warned, you can be fined if you’re income is over £50,000 and you don’t pay the tax due. HMRC has collected nearly £20m in fines from people who failed to pay the High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge since its introduction in 2013.”
Sean said: “If you’ve given to charity via gift aid and you pay higher rate tax, you can claim back additional tax relief through your tax return.
“For example, if you donate £100 via gift aid, the charity will claim an additional £25, to make the total gift £125. If you pay 40% tax, you can reclaim up to an extra £25 for yourself (£125 x 20%).
“Previous research has indicated that only 22% of higher and additional rate taxpayers who donate to charity claim this relief because the perceived effort involved puts many people off.
“However, it is relatively simple to do via a self-assessment tax return and could be worth a lot of money for those who donate significant sums.”
Don’t forget any capital gains
Sean said: “If you sold or gave away shares in the 2020/21 tax year, you need to declare and pay any tax due on gains made.
“Many people don’t realise that they can face a Capital Gains Tax bill when they gift shares or property – other than their main home – to anyone other than their spouse or civil partner.
“It’s worthwhile checking if you have any losses available to offset any potential bill.”