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Self-assessment tax return – the 10 most common mistakes to avoid

The clock is ticking with just weeks to go to file your tax return.

Almost six million of the 11 million or so people in Britain required to fill in a tax return still haven’t sent it in yet.

But it is still easy to trip up, due to carelessness, not being organised enough, or lack of knowledge.

Here are the 10 most common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Believing that the taxman is always right – HMRC have lost many of their experienced staff and we regularly see them making errors
  2. Be careful entering numbers – it’s easy to transpose them
  3. Ensure that any underpayments included in your tax code are put on your tax return
  4. If a higher rate tax payer claim tax relief on any gift aid payments you have made to charities
  5. Claim tax relief for any personal pension contributions
  6. Be prepared for the clawback of any child benefit received if you earn over £50,000
  7. Don’t leave it until the last minute – it will take longer than you think to complete and the online system becomes very slow
  8. If you want to prepare a paper tax return it has to be submitted before the end of October
  9. Include your student loan repayments
  10. Claim any losses you are entitled to, for example earlier years’ capital or rental losses

The deadline for sending 2015-16 self-assessment tax returns online to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is January 31 2017.

Penalties for late tax returns include an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time.