Next steps

December 22, 2015

Here’s a nice quiet Christmas tax return task for you.  OK, so you’ve made sure you can log onto your HMRC account and fill in your online tax return.  What you need to do next is to make sure you’ve got something to put on the return.

Now, in an ideal world of course, you would go to the box file sitting next to your desk, the one marked “current tax”, open it up and find all your invoices, receipts and other necessary bits of paperwork, neatly filed in date order.

In the real world, however, you’re looking for paperwork covering the period 6th April 2013 to 5th April 2014 and some of it may have… strayed?  We’ll take searching for the bits you’ve put in another safe place as read, but for today let’s look at practicalities.

What you need, is a diary.

No, hear me out.  I’m not talking to people who already have a neat set of business records but to the disorganised person whose business is so small they’re not entirely sure it IS a business.  If you’re in that category, don’t despair.  Do you have a diary?  Do you have 2013 and 2014 appointments diaries, neatly showing where you were and when?  Perhaps you keep a secret moleskine with handwritten musings neatly captured in turquoise ink?  (No?  That’s just me when I was a 13 year old girl, then?)

But what you probably DO have, in this internet age, is a Facebook account, and/or a blog, instagram, twitter or Linkdin.  Here’s what you do.  Get a big old notebook with twelve free pages (or twelve sheets of A4, or indeed a dozen brown envelopes).  Start of by writing the relevant months on them, from April 2013 to March 2014.

Now, open up your Facebook account and go to the archive (or, if Facebook is in one of its irritating modes where the archive isn’t visible, go to your home page and scroll down… and down… and down… till you get to April 2013.  Then read through the entries, and see what you were doing.  Note down on the relevant page anything that related to your business: publications, business trips, arguments with customers…

It will take you a good while, if you’re a regular FB-user, and will be an interesting exercise in itself, honest.

Do the same with your twitter, instagram or other social media profile: look at what you were doing and when, and note down month by month what you were doing.  Adorable baby pictures from that trip to Manchester?  Remember how you called in to see your niece on your way back from the business trip to see that new client… write down the business trip – we’ll look for the details later.

The point is to prepare as detailed a skeleton as possible of what you were doing in the tax year 2013-14.  Once you’ve got the bones of it, we’ll tackle fleshing it out.  But you have all of Christmas to reconstruct where you were in the 2013-14 tax year, and you’ll see all those amusing cat pictures again along the way.  What are you waiting for?  Go!


[Probably unnecessary advice but anyway: this series of entries is designed for the very smallest micro business like my own.  Are you a micro business?  Well, have you made any money, or seriously tried to make any money, from a skill or from buying and selling something?  Are you a writer, kitchen table entrepreneur, inveterate car boot buyer and ebay seller?  Read on.  But if you make more than the VAT threshold of 79k or sell something digital to private customers overseas, or already have an accountant for that matter, these entries aren’t for you – go and throw yourself on the mercy of your accountant, right now, sorry.)


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