Filing tax returns is necessary, but the process can be tricky as there are several aspects that you need to brainstorm before you can finally submit one. The tricky part elevates to a new level if you are a landlord and rent properties. Just like with great power comes great responsibility; with more rental properties come more complications in filing taxes.
If you are new to filing a self-assessment tax return, you must be overwhelmed by various questions, especially if you are doing this in the last few days. However, there is no need to worry as you can handle this easily, provided you are focused.
Let’s dive in & find out how you can file your self-assessment tax return easily.
Filing Self-Assessment Tax Return: Is it necessary?
Well, if you are a landlord and have a rental income of more than £2,500, you must file a self-assessment tax return to avoid hefty penalties beginning from £100 to 100% of the tax due. This rental income can be from:
- Holiday home in the UK
- Residential property in the UK
- Commercial property in the UK
On the other hand, if your rental income is less than £1,000, you are not entitled to pay any taxes. However, if it lies between £1,000 and £2,500, you need to get in touch with the HM Revenue and Customs.
What are the Essential Documents for Filing a Self-Assessment Tax Return?
To successfully file a self-assessment tax return, HMRC needs you to have the following documents with you:
- Lease or letting contracts
- Cost of capital items used in the property if it is a holiday home or commercial property
- Rent books, receipts, invoices, bank statements
- Mileage logs and cost of vehicle used
- National Insurance number
- 10-digit unified taxpayer reference (UTR)
- All the documents that you had when you bought the property
What is the Process of Filing a Self-Assessment Tax Return?
Finally, let’s deal with the elephant in the room! If you are filing your self-assessment tax return for the first time, you need to calm your mind and try absorbing small subsets of information at a time. As there are many things to analyse, you need to undertake the process slowly, especially if the deadline (31st January) is near.
1. The Registration Process
Again, if you are doing this for the first time, you need to register for self-assessment with HMRC. After you start receiving rental income in the tax year, you need to register before the deadline, which is 5 October. For instance, if you are filing the tax return for 2020-21, you should have registered before 5 October 2020.
If you haven’t, no need to worry as HMRC may not impose any fine on you, but your tax return submission will be delayed. Why?
When you register with HMRC, it takes some time for them to process it. Moreover, you are sent your UTR via post, which takes time (10 days). If you register in the final weeks of filing your tax return, it may delay your tax return submission.
Note: Even if you fail to register before time, you can submit your taxes using your National Insurance number. Moreover, if you have registered previously, you need to re-register by using your old UTR.
2. Align and calculate all of your rental earnings
To keep the filing process simple, you need to calculate all of your rental earnings received in the tax year. For this, you need to scan all of your bank statements and other records of received payments like receipts, invoices, etc.
Here are some crucial documents you need to have:
- Leasing contracts
- Bank statements
- Invoices, receipts, rent books, etc.
- Property related documents
- Cost of capital items for a holiday or commercial property
- Cost of vehicle used for property business and mileage logs of the vehicle
- UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference)
Other than that, you need to be aware of the dates when you lent the property and the money spent on it.
To make this process much smoother, you can use accounting software.
3. Make a note of business expenses incurred
If you are renting property, it is pretty obvious that you are spending for its maintenance. Hence, some allowable expenses can be deducted from your total taxable profit. However, ensure that these expenses are exclusively used for the property, such as:
- Property repair & maintenance costs
- Insurance of the landlord
- Domestic items replacement
- Accounting and leasing agent fees
- Interest on mortgage payments
- Cleaning and gardening fees
If you are new to this, you need to be aware of the recent buy-to-let tax changes for 2021. The tax relief on mortgage interest was reduced to 25% for 2019-20. It will be zero in 2021 and is replaced by a 20 per cent tax credit on the mortgage interest repayments.
4. Complete the Form and Pay the Taxes
The next step is to fill out the tax return form. And yes, it will be a bit intimidating. However, HMRC has made it easy by adding the help buttons with all the required information in detail. The form is designed in a way that removes the irrelevant sections based on the choices you make.
It is divided into two parts, namely:
- SA100: This needs to be filled by everybody and requires you to fill income, pensions, charitable donations and benefits.
- SA105: This needs to be filled by landlords to reveal their rental income.
Once your tax bill is generated, you can use your UTR and pay it by online or telephone banking, Clearing House Automated Payment System, debit or credit card or at your bank.
Note: As 2020 has been a bit tough, taxpayers with upto £30,000 of self-assessment liabilities can pay the taxes over the span of 12 months (by January 2022).
As there are various aspects to keep in mind while filing your self-assessment tax return, you must be alert all the time. Although HMRC assists you well while you are undertaking the process, it is better to take assistance from an expert or a person who has already done it (especially if you are doing it in the final days). This article will surely be an excellent reference for you!