At this time of year the thought of doing your tax return can be daunting and it’s easy to put the whole thing off. But it’s important to get it done and, with the deadline looming, not to leave it until the last minute.

Read our top tips from the experts on how to make the process easier:

1. Don’t leave it too late

Last year 500,000 people left it to the day of the deadline to file their tax return, according to HMRC. But this can be a dangerous thing to do. This year the deadline falls on a Saturday and HMRC’s helpline is only open until 4pm. What happens if you need telephone assistance? The helpline will be swamped with calls and won’t even be open in the evening.

It’s best to leave yourself a bit of breathing space by not leaving it to the very last minute.

2. Don’t fill in your tax return all in one go

Break up the tax return into manageable chunks. Spread doing the sections over several days, to help you avoid getting bored to death.

The online return is split up into sections, which makes it easier as you can save each section as you go along. It also gives you plenty of time to check things over properly.

3. Get your paperwork in order before you begin

Collate all your paperwork so you have it to hand before you start as this will make the process so much quicker.

Look at your bank statements and check out any interest payments on your accounts, investment properties that are liable for tax or investment dividends.

Check that you’re claiming for all the allowances that you’re entitled to (e.g. a percentage of mortgage interest or council tax if you run a business from home).

4. Make sure you’ve got your unique taxpayer reference

To use the HMRC self-assessment website you need a unique taxpayer reference. If you haven’t got it, it can take up to ten days to receive your username and password in the post.

For security reasons HMRC will not email you, it’s vital that you give yourself plenty of time to receive it if you haven’t registered with the site before.

5. Help from Lawpack

If you want expert guidance on completing your tax return, our Tax Return Organiser Kit can help. Written by chartered accountants HM Williams, previous winners of the Butterworth Tolley Best Tax Team Award, it guides you through each section of the tax return and includes expert tips on how you can reduce your tax bill.

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Published on: January 27, 2015