Self assessment – who needs to fill in a tax return form?

Most normal ’employees’ have tax deducted at source via the PAYE system and are unlikely to have to fill in a tax return unless they receive other income. If you receive income which is not taxed at source, or have complex tax affairs, you do need to complete a tax return.

The following groups of people are required to complete tax returns each year:

  • The self employed (sole traders, partnerships, etc.)
  • Limited company directors
  • If you receive rent or other income from property
  • If you have other untaxed income which isn’t collected at source (via PAYE) – such as occasional freelance work
  • Normal ’employees’ who have complex tax affairs
In addition to these main groups, there are other more select groups such as pension scheme trustees, and ministers of religion – but we won’t include them all here.

Which type of tax return?

The type of self assessment form your will need to complete will depend on your employment status. If you are a limited company director, or an ‘individual’, you fill out the ‘standard’ self assessment form (or a ‘short’ version if your affairs are very simple).

If you’re self employed or in a partnership, you will need to fill in a specific type of tax return form for the self employed. You can read full details on the HMRC site – you should automatically receive this form each year once you have registered as self employed.

You can ask your local tax office for a tax return form if you are not sent one automatically during April.

If your circumstances may have changed – you may have become a landlord, or have done some extra freelance work, or a variety of other activities which mean you need to pay extra tax – you need to contact your local tax office and ask for a return form.

Also read HMRC’s dedicated pages explaining if you need to complete a self assessment return.

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