How do I learn to fill out my own tax return please? A college course? An online platform?

Hi everyone,

I need to learn how to fill out my own tax return.  I work full time PAYE but do occasional freelance work.  I have always declared everything I earnt but I've recently found out I only need to declare earnings if it's over the £1000 Trading Allowance. 

Last year my freelance earnings were only a bit over £1000 so most profit was wiped out by accountancy fees. So it's time I learned how to do it!

I did the two free HMRC courses on how to fill it in however I left with more questions than answers and they don't allow questions! I'm terrified of getting it wrong.  I would love to do an in-person course at a college to learn how to fill it in & but I can't find any.  I'm in S.W. London.   So then I'm left with online courses but again these don't necessarily allow for questions.

So how would you recommend a newbie learn how to complete their tax return please?  It must be possible as many people manage it & many on here too but is there a software that makes it really easy?  Is there a course you would recommend?  Think 'Filling out your tax return for Dummies' level please and something that allows questions or has a helpline.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Thank you so much.

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  • Dazed_and_C0nfused
    Dazed_and_C0nfused Posts: 12,754
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    Hi everyone,

    I need to learn how to fill out my own tax return.  I work full time PAYE but do occasional freelance work.  I have always declared everything I earnt but I've recently found out I only need to declare earnings if it's over the £1000 Trading Allowance. 

    Last year my freelance earnings were only a bit over £1000 so most profit was wiped out by accountancy fees. So it's time I learned how to do it!

    I did the two free HMRC courses on how to fill it in however I left with more questions than answers and they don't allow questions! I'm terrified of getting it wrong.  I would love to do an in-person course at a college to learn how to fill it in & but I can't find any.  I'm in S.W. London.   So then I'm left with online courses but again these don't necessarily allow for questions.

    So how would you recommend a newbie learn how to complete their tax return please?  It must be possible as many people manage it & many on here too but is there a software that makes it really easy?  Is there a course you would recommend?  Think 'Filling out your tax return for Dummies' level please and something that allows questions or has a helpline.

    Any help would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you so much.

    What exactly do you think you will struggle with?

    Are you planning on claiming the Trading Allowance or actual expenses in relation to your business?

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,271
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    For what it's worth I submitted my first self assessment form online last week.  On it there was a note section and I said it was my first & I didn't know if I was doing it right. 

    Today I got a letter from HMRC PAYE & SA asking lots of questions that were impossible to answer.  For instance they wanted to know my PAYE reference for some pension income I have.  Problem is there isn't one.  I assume for self employed income you might have the same issue.  In any case after over an hour on the phone and being passed back and forth someone finally confirmed that the letter didn't need to be answered as they had, in fact, had all the information required.  I've taken their name and noted time and date of the call in case anything else if received.

    So a long winded process to waddle through but they sound like they want to be helpful so maybe it's a case of winging it and then answer any follow up questions as best as you can.
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • SiliconChip
    SiliconChip Posts: 1,273
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    Brie said:
    For instance they wanted to know my PAYE reference for some pension income I have.  Problem is there isn't one.
    I'd be surprised if your pension payslip doesn't include the PAYE reference, all of mine do, but if it doesn't then a quick call to your pension provider would surely have found it.


  • Dazed_and_C0nfused
    Dazed_and_C0nfused Posts: 12,754
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    Brie said:
    For instance they wanted to know my PAYE reference for some pension income I have.  Problem is there isn't one.
    I'd be surprised if your pension payslip doesn't include the PAYE reference, all of mine do, but if it doesn't then a quick call to your pension provider would surely have found it.


    This ^^^

    I think it is also shown on your Personal Tax Account nowadays.
  • Hibiscus79
    Hibiscus79 Posts: 15
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    What exactly do you think you will struggle with?

    Are you planning on claiming the Trading Allowance or actual expenses in relation to your business?

    Anything other than my name & address!  

    If I earn over the £1000 then yes, I will need to claim the Trading Allowance & declare the rest.  Not sure it this is how  it works yet.

    Yes there will be expenses as well.
  • Hibiscus79
    Hibiscus79 Posts: 15
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    Brie said:
    For what it's worth I submitted my first self assessment form online last week.  On it there was a note section and I said it was my first & I didn't know if I was doing it right. 

    Today I got a letter from HMRC PAYE & SA asking lots of questions that were impossible to answer.  For instance they wanted to know my PAYE reference for some pension income I have.  Problem is there isn't one.  I assume for self employed income you might have the same issue.  In any case after over an hour on the phone and being passed back and forth someone finally confirmed that the letter didn't need to be answered as they had, in fact, had all the information required.  I've taken their name and noted time and date of the call in case anything else if received.

    So a long winded process to waddle through but they sound like they want to be helpful so maybe it's a case of winging it and then answer any follow up questions as best as you can.

    Thanks Brie, that's helpful.  It doesn't help that their waiting times are so much longer these days which only increases the stress of trying to get anything resolved.  Thanks for the advice.
  • Dazed_and_C0nfused
    Dazed_and_C0nfused Posts: 12,754
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    What exactly do you think you will struggle with?

    Are you planning on claiming the Trading Allowance or actual expenses in relation to your business?

    Anything other than my name & address!  

    If I earn over the £1000 then yes, I will need to claim the Trading Allowance & declare the rest.  Not sure it this is how  it works yet.

    Yes there will be expenses as well.
    No, there will a claim for the Trading Allowance or expenses, you can't have your cake and eat it.

    If you are struggling with this you might be better with a local accountant 😳
  • BoGoF
    BoGoF Posts: 6,761
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    Brie said:
    For what it's worth I submitted my first self assessment form online last week.  On it there was a note section and I said it was my first & I didn't know if I was doing it right. 

    Today I got a letter from HMRC PAYE & SA asking lots of questions that were impossible to answer.  For instance they wanted to know my PAYE reference for some pension income I have.  Problem is there isn't one.  I assume for self employed income you might have the same issue.  In any case after over an hour on the phone and being passed back and forth someone finally confirmed that the letter didn't need to be 

    Thanks Brie, that's helpful.  It doesn't help that their waiting times are so much longer these days which only increases the stress of trying to get anything resolved.  Thanks for the advice.
    The perils of leaving things to 2 weeks before the deadline when you have had 9 months to do it.
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,271
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    I'd be surprised if your pension payslip doesn't include the PAYE reference, all of mine do, but if it doesn't then a quick call to your pension provider would surely have found it.
    This ^^^
    I think it is also shown on your Personal Tax Account nowadays.
    BoGoF said:
    The perils of leaving things to 2 weeks before the deadline when you have had 9 months to do it.
    Yes but no but....

    @BoGoF

    I was hoping to know by now how much tax had been deducted from the pension or how much will be charged if it hasn't been deducted already but the pension team can't tell me and won't be able to for a few months yet.

    @SiliconChip & @Dazed_and_C0nfused

    Of course the PAYE reference should be on the payslip or on my personal tax account or something.  But I've never received a payslip because none are provided, I can't log into a personal tax account because I've not had one previously and, the biggie, because the pension isn't being paid in the UK!  There's no reason to expect a different country to use a UK system - well the one chap I talked to from HMRC seemed to think they should but he relented after a while.

    My point was that the phone line people were very helpful.  So much so that after the call ended (1 hour, 7 minutes with an initial wait of about 45 minutes and the rest being passed from team to team) the last person I had talked to actually rang me back with more information.  She had, after the call, taken more time to look at my submitted assessment and rang to tell me what I had done wrong and how to correct it.  I thought that was startling good service frankly.

    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
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