The Fixer: self-assessment tax return

Filing your own tax return is easy as a single trader.

The Fixer: self-assessment tax returns
Have you been left out of pocket due to poor service or sharp practice? Do you have a money problem that won't go away?

It can seem impossible to get a fair result when you are battling a financial issue alone. But never fear! The AOL Money Fixer is here to help.

Dear Fixer,

About a year ago, I left my job and set up on my own as a self-employed marketing consultant. Things have been going pretty well, and I am hoping to continue to grow my little business in 2017.

However, I am getting worried about filing my self-assessment tax return, as it is not something I have ever had to do before.

My friend, who also runs her own rather larger business, has suggested employing an accountant to do my return.

But my brother says I will be able to do it myself online. Is it worth spending £300 on an accountant or should I try to make the declaration myself?

D Freeman, Worcester

Dear Ms Freeman,

Filing your self-assessment tax return online is relatively simple, especially as you are a one-man band. So as long as you are organised, there should be no need to pay an accountant to do it for you.

The return you file will relate to the tax year running from April 2015 to April 2016 - even though you were only self-employed for part of that time - and you have until January 31 to complete and send it.

Get started now by registering on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website and applying for an activation code.

Once you have that, you just need your "Unique Taxpayer Reference" number (which can be found on letters from HMRC) and either your National Insurance number or your postcode to register to file your return online.

Then enter how much you earned outside the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system between April 2015 and April 2016, which may include investment returns such as rental income as well as any money you were paid by clients, and the expenditure you can offset against your income - for example the cost of travelling to and from meetings.

The difference between the two amounts is your taxable income, on which the system will tell you how much you have to pay.

Notes and help sheets are available, while you can also contact the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3310 if you have any questions.

Just make sure you keep the receipts to back up your claims, in case the HMRC decides to investigate you for some reason.

The Fixer

Whatever your financial problem, write to and The AOL Money Fixer will get on the case.