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Busy landlord? Here’s how to complete your Self Assessment tax return quicker

Dec 4, 2023

Life can be busy when you’re a landlord. Leaving aside managing your property and tenants, many landlords must also cope with the demands of a job or running a business. Then there’s your own domestic and family responsibilities. 

The last thing you need hanging over you is a tax return to complete, but we’re steadily approaching that time of year again, when the midnight 31 January online filing deadline for Self Assessment tax return begins to loom in the near distance.

Time to sort out your Self Assessment tax return

Few landlords look forward to doing their Self Assessment tax returns. It’s not enjoyable, even if you do have a head for figures. Many people leave it until January, but that increases the chances of missing the deadline and having to pay a £100 fine.

About 600,000 people missed last year’s Self Assessment tax return online-filing deadline, but that was a huge improvement on the 2.3m who missed the 31 January 2022 deadline, caused largely by the impact of the pandemic.   

You can file your Self Assessment tax return any time after the tax year ends on 5 April. And rather than face the stress of battling the deadline in January, you could get it done now. There really is no time like the present. 

Assuming that you’re an existing landlord who is already registered for Self Assessment, here are six tips that could help you to complete your Self Assessment tax quicker.

1. Collect the information you need to complete your Self Assessment tax return

If you spend time in advance gathering all of the information you need to complete your Self Assessment tax return, you’ll get the job done much quicker. As a landlord you’ll need your ten-digit URT (Unique Taxpayer Reference), which enables HMRC to identify you. You will have included your UTR in previous tax returns.

You must also know how much gross rental income you’ve received during the tax year, and what property rental expenses you wish to claim as allowable expenses. You’ll need your National Insurance number and summary details of any income you’ve received from self-employment and other taxable sources, such as share dividend payments, pension payments, capital gains, etc, as well as summaries of costs you wish to claim as tax expenses.

If you’re employed, find your last P60, because it will show how much you’ve been paid and how much has been deducted in tax and National Insurance. If you’ve lost your P60, ask your employer for a replacement copy. If you’ve made contributions to charity or pensions that qualify for tax relief, have details of these to hand, too.

2. Be clear about which tax return supplementary pages you must complete

As well as the main Self Assessment tax return (the SA100 form), landlords must complete the SA105 supplementary pages, where you will detail your rental income and landlord-related tax expenses that you wish to claim. If you’re also a sole trader, you’ll need to also include the SA103 supplementary pages. Depending on your other taxable income sources, you may need to include other supplementary pages (visit   government website GOV.UK to view a full list).   

3. Pick the right time and place to fill out your Self Assessment tax return

You’ll complete your Self Assessment tax return much quicker if you do it at the right time in the right place, away from distractions and interruptions that will slow you down. If you can find a calm, isolated place, it can really help you to concentrate on the job in hand. If you must do it at home and live with others, ask them not to disturb you so you can concentrate fully on completing your tax return. Switch off your phone and any other potential distractions.

4. Get your Self Assessment tax return done in one session

If you do it in a series of shorter sessions, it will take you more time. You could find yourself putting it off and delaying it. Show more discipline. Remain determined to do it in one sitting (unless there really is no other option). If you’ve already gathered all of the information you need, completing your Self Assessment tax return should take just three or four hours. Don’t rush, because mistakes will be more likely. Be methodical. Build in enough time to check your tax return at the end. 

5. Save time and money by using Self Assessment tax return-filing software

You can fill out and file your Self Assessment tax return online via GOV.UK. You’ll need to sign in using your Government Gateway user ID and password. The big drawback is you’re literally on your own. The only guidance available comes from notes HMRC publishes online, which may or may not help you.

Another popular option is to use commercial Self Assessment tax return-filing software, which can make things much easier and quicker. Basically, you specify the taxable income you need to report and the software guides you through relevant sections of the tax return, while ensuring that supplementary pages are completed. Automatic prompts reveal what information you need to enter and where, which makes mistakes less likely. Expect to pay about sixty quid or so for the year, which is significantly cheaper than an accountant, while still saving you lots of time and hassle.

6. Reach out for support to complete your Self Assessment tax return

If you really hate the idea of doing your own tax return, especially with a deadline approaching, and you can afford it, obviously, a suitably experienced accountant will complete and file your Self Assessment tax return for you, which will save you the time and hassle. If your return is simple enough, it should cost you £150-£250. If your tax return is more complex, you’ll pay more, depending on how much work is required.

Even if you do your own Self Assessment tax return, for a fee, an expert will look at your tax return and let you know if there are any mistakes. Such service providers charge about £100-£200, but you might pay less tax as a result, so it can be worthwhile.

We all want to complete things we don’t like doing as soon as possible. But you really shouldn’t rush when it comes to your tax return, because even seemingly small mistakes can have big consequences. At very least, later, you may need to correct them, which will only waste more of your time. More haste, less speed. 

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