Self-Employed Tax Return Example: A Step-by-Step Guide for Freelancers and Small Business Owners

Self-Employed Tax Return Example: A Step-by-Step Guide for Freelancers and Small Business Owners

Self-Employed Tax Return Example: A Step-by-Step Guide for Freelancers and Small Business Owners

10th July 2023 | Tax

Being self-employed brings many advantages, including the freedom to work on your own terms and pursue your passions. However, it also comes with certain responsibilities, such as managing your finances and filing your taxes correctly. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process of completing your self-employed tax return. 

Whether you're a freelancer, consultant, or small business owner, understanding the intricacies of self-assessment tax returns is essential to ensure compliance and make the most of available deductions. 

At ARK Chartered Certified Accountants, we specialize in assisting self-employed individuals like yourself in navigating the complexities of tax regulations, so you can focus on what you do best. 

Let's dive in and demystify the self-employed tax return process.

Getting Started with Self-Assessment Tax Returns

Understanding the fundamentals of self-assessment tax returns is crucial for self-employed individuals. In this section, we will cover the key aspects to get you started on the right foot.

Who Needs to File a Self-Assessment Tax Return?

Determining whether you need to file a self-assessment tax return is the first step. Several factors come into play, including your self-employed income, additional income sources, and specific circumstances. 

Let's explore the criteria that determine whether you fall into this category:

  • Self-Employed Income: If you work for yourself and your total income from self-employment exceeds the threshold set by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), you will likely need to file a self-assessment tax return. It's important to accurately calculate your self-employed income, including sales, fees, commissions, and any other earnings related to your business.
  • Additional Income Sources: Apart from self-employment, if you have other sources of income, such as rental income, dividends, or capital gains, you may need to file a self-assessment tax return. Reporting these additional income sources correctly is essential to ensure compliance with HMRC regulations.
  • High Income Individuals: If your total income exceeds a certain threshold, regardless of the source, you may be required to file a self-assessment tax return. The threshold varies depending on factors such as age, residency status, and specific tax allowances.
  • Complex Tax Situations: Certain circumstances can make your tax affairs more complex, requiring the filing of a self-assessment tax return. This includes situations such as having income from abroad, receiving income from trusts or estates, or claiming certain tax reliefs or allowances.
  • HMRC Request: HMRC may request that you file a self-assessment tax return even if you don't meet the criteria mentioned above. This can happen if they believe your tax affairs are more complex or if they require additional information to accurately assess your tax liability.

It's important to note that the criteria for filing a self-assessment tax return may change from year to year, and it's advisable to consult with a qualified accountant or tax advisor to determine your specific obligations based on your circumstances.

Important Deadlines and Penalties

Meeting tax deadlines is crucial to avoid penalties and ensure compliance with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) requirements. Let's take a look at the key submission dates and the consequences of filing your self-assessment tax return late:

  • Deadline for Registering: If you are new to self-employment or have additional income that requires you to file a self-assessment tax return, it's important to register with HMRC as soon as possible. You should register by 5th October following the end of the tax year in which you need to file your return.
  • Deadline for Paper Filing: If you choose to file your tax return on paper rather than online, the deadline for submission is 31st October following the end of the tax year. However, it's worth noting that HMRC encourages taxpayers to file their returns online as it provides additional benefits and extended deadlines.
  • Online Filing Deadline: The deadline for filing your self-assessment tax return online is 31st January following the end of the tax year. This applies to both self-employed individuals and those with other income sources requiring self-assessment.

Filing your self-assessment tax return late can have several consequences, including penalties, accruing interest charges, or the loss of tax benefits.

Organizing Your Financial Records

Maintaining well-organized financial records is key to a smooth tax return process. In this section, we will delve into the importance of effective record-keeping and offer practical tips to keep your financial records in order.

Tracking Your Income

Accurately tracking your self-employed income is essential for maintaining proper financial records and fulfilling your tax obligations. 

Here are some effective methods for tracking your income:

  • Invoices: Use a systematic invoicing system to create and send invoices to your clients or customers. Include essential details such as the date, description of services or products, quantity, rate, and payment terms. Keep a record of issued invoices and track the payments received.
  • Sales Records: Maintain a comprehensive record of your sales transactions. This can be done manually using a sales journal or electronically through accounting software. Note down the date of sale, customer details, items or services sold, quantity, and total amount received.
  • Bank Statements: Regularly review your bank statements to track deposits made into your business account. Ensure that all income received is properly recorded and matched with corresponding invoices or sales transactions.
  • Digital Accounting Tools: Consider using digital accounting software or tools specifically designed for self-employed individuals. These platforms offer features like income tracking, invoicing, and expense management. They can streamline the process, provide real-time insights, and generate accurate financial reports.
  • Separate Business Account: Maintain a separate bank account for your business transactions. This separation helps in accurately tracking business income and expenses, ensuring that personal and business finances remain distinct.
  • Receipts and Documentation: Keep organized records of all business-related receipts and documentation. This includes receipts for expenses, proof of payment from clients, and any other financial documents relevant to your self-employment activities.

Managing Business Expenses

Effectively managing your business expenses is crucial for accurate financial reporting and maximizing tax deductions. 

Here are some tips to help you record and organize your expenses:

  • Separate Personal and Business Expenses
  • Keep Receipts and Invoices
  • Categorize Expenses
  • Utilize Accounting Software

Retaining Relevant Documents

Retaining relevant documents to support the information in your tax return. Keep receipts, invoices, bank statements, and other financial documents, which will serve as evidence for your income and expenses, and they play a vital role in substantiating your tax claims.

Step-by-Step Guide to Completing Your Tax Return

Filing your self-assessment tax return can feel overwhelming, but with a step-by-step approach, it becomes more manageable. Here is a guide to help you complete your tax return accurately:

1. Gather the Required Information

Collect all the necessary information and documents before you begin. This includes your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), National Insurance number, records of income and expenses, bank statements, and any relevant receipts or documents.

2. Access the HMRC Online Portal

Log in to the HMRC online portal using your Government Gateway account. If you don't have an account, you can create one easily on the HMRC website. Ensure you have your login details ready.

3. Start a New Tax Return

Navigate to the self-assessment section and select the option to start a new tax return. Follow the prompts to enter your personal details, such as your name, address, and UTR.

4. Declare Your Income

Enter all sources of income, including self-employment, employment income, rental income, and any other relevant income streams. Provide accurate figures and ensure you include all necessary details.

5. Deduct Allowable Expenses

Claim deductions for allowable expenses related to your self-employment or business activities. This may include costs such as office supplies, travel expenses, professional fees, and equipment purchases. Ensure you keep supporting documentation for all claimed expenses.

6. Report Capital Gains

If you have made any capital gains during the tax year, report them accurately. This includes gains from the sale of property, investments, or other assets. Be sure to include any applicable reliefs or exemptions.

7. Declare Other Income

If you have income from other sources, such as dividends, interest, or rental income, declare it in the appropriate sections of your tax return. Provide accurate figures and details for each income source.

8. Check for Tax Reliefs and Allowances

Review the available tax reliefs and allowances to ensure you are claiming all eligible benefits. This may include reliefs for pension contributions, charitable donations, or other specific circumstances.

9. Calculate Your Tax Liability

Once you have entered all the relevant information, the online system will calculate your tax liability automatically. Review the figures carefully and ensure they are accurate.

10. Submit and Pay

After reviewing your tax return, submit it electronically through the HMRC online portal. If you have a tax liability, make the payment by the due date to avoid penalties and interest charges. The online system will provide instructions for payment methods.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can complete your self-assessment tax return accurately and efficiently. If you require assistance or have complex tax situations, ARK Chartered Certified Accountants is here to help. Our experienced team can guide you through the process, ensure compliance with tax regulations, and maximize your tax benefits.


Completing a self-employed tax return doesn't have to be a daunting task. By following our step-by-step guide and leveraging the expertise of ARK Chartered Certified Accountants, you can navigate the process with confidence. We understand the unique challenges and opportunities faced by self-employed individuals, and we're here to provide personalized support and guidance. 

Don't let tax obligations hinder your entrepreneurial spirit. Contact us at 0161 706 1998 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation and discover how we can help you with your corporate and personal tax needs. With our assistance, you can minimize your tax liabilities, preserve your wealth, and focus on building a successful and fulfilling self-employed career.

Send a Message

An email will be sent to the owner

Contact Us

Give us a ring

0161 706 1998

Send us an email

[email protected]
Follow Us