When do I need to do a tax return?

Kirsty Young Advice and Tips, Tax

For new business owners, knowing when you do a tax return is a worry. This short blog answers this question from a newly self-employed person’s point of view.

As it’s the most common question we get asked, let’s revisit the basics.


Firstly, a reminder about registration

After becoming self-employed, you should register “as soon as possible”. If you are new to self-employment, we suggest that you:


If you need to, you can register with HM Revenue & Customs here. Be aware that it can take time for your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) to be issued by HMRC. You’ll need this to submit your tax return.


So, when is my first return due?

The tax year runs from 6th April to the 5th of April the following year.

Your tax return is then due at the end of January the following year.

For example:

  • The 2022/23 tax year runs from 6th April 2022 – 5th April 2023.
  • Your digital 2022/23 tax return is due by 31st January 2024 at the very latest.
  • Any tax due is also due to be paid then too. So, the latest you can pay tax due is also 31st January.

Moving forward:

  • The 2023/24 tax year runs from 6th April 2023 – 5th April 2024.
  • Your 2023/24 tax return is due by 31st January 2025.
  • Again, any tax due is also due to be paid by 31st January 2025.

Please note that these dates are for online digital tax returns. If you’re still doing them on paper, the deadline is midnight on 31 October 2024.


Make sure you submit your self assessment return on time!

If you submit your self-assessment online later than 31 January, there are consequences.

“You’ll get a penalty if you need to send a tax return and you miss the deadline for submitting it or paying your bill … You’ll be charged interest on late payments.”

And the costs can rack up too. Even if you are just a day late, you’ll have to pay a penalty of £100. Delay by three months and you may have to pay a penalty of £10 a day, for a maximum of 90 days – that’s £900!


But I started part way through the year?

If you became self-employed part way through the year, then your tax return deadline follows the tax year you started in.

For example:

  • If you started being self-employed on 1st January 2024, you started during the 2023/2024 tax year.
  • Therefore, your first tax return will be for the year ending 5th April 2024 (the 2023/24 return).
  • This will be due by 31st January 2025.

In this scenario, you end up with a ‘short’ first year of self-employment income. Your next year of self-employment income then runs along with the tax year.

NB: There are some instances where HMRC will give you a different one-off deadline, but this is rare.


Give you or your accountant an early Christmas present!

If you want an accountant to complete your tax return for you, be nice to them and make sure they have everything they need to complete a digital return on your behalf well before December.

That timescale should also ensure they have time to properly check records and calculate exactly how much tax you owe. Then you can pay the correct amount before 31 January.

This also applies to you if you are completing this yourself. We are sure you’d rather be spending time with your family over the festive period than worrying about tax returns!


I’m still confused about tax return deadlines

If you don’t have an accountant, or feel your accountant isn’t being as helpful as they might, we’d love a chat about how we can help.

An accountant should also be up to date with all the current tax year allowances that you may be able to claim, and the correct way to deal with expenses, etc, helping you save money on your tax bill.

with your current accountant, we’d love a chat about how we can help.