/ Money

Last minute tax return questions answered

Tax time

In the lead up to the self-assessment deadline on 31 January we’ve been gathering and answering your burning tax return questions. Here’s a selection of some of the more interesting questions and answers…

Q. Can landlords claim back the cost of cleaning a rental property?

A. Landlords must pay tax on their rental profits – but they can make deductions for ‘allowable expenses’. These include the cost of any services you pay for, like having the property cleaned.

However, ‘allowable expenses’ don’t include ‘capital expenditure’ – like buying the property in the first place or improving it. You can find out more about paying tax as a landlord on GOV.UK.

Q. I registered for self-assessment in 2013/14, but the income I expected didn’t happen. Do I still need to complete my tax return?

A. Unless you specifically arrange for HMRC to withdraw the tax return, you’ll have to complete it whether or not you owe any tax. Filing your tax return late results in big fines – especially galling to those who owe nothing. Fines for late submission start at £100 – but jump up significantly at three, six and twelve month junctures.

Q. As a self-employed person, what can I claim back for buying a car for business purposes?

A. You can potentially claim a capital allowance – ie a write down on your taxable profits – for the cost of any cars you buy and use wholly for your business. You can also claim actual fuel costs and other running costs as ‘allowable business expenses’. But there is an alternative – the fixed rate basis…

Under these rules a flat rate is paid per mile to cover all vehicle related costs – 45p/mile up to 10,000 miles and 25p/mile after that. If a taxpayer uses the mileage rate basis then they can’t claim any additional amounts for buying or running the car.

Q. What clothing can be claimed as a self-employed business expense?

A. The self-employed can claim allowances for protective clothing, uniforms and – should you be an actor or entertainer – any costumes you have purchased for your work!

How have you got on with filing your self-assessment tax return? Were there any interesting circumstances you wish you knew answers to before you got started? Or do you have any last minute tips for others filing their tax return?

Lynn says:
17 May 2016

I’m currently completing my self assessment, am looking to claim business mileage at the fixed rate basis of 45p per mile. I have already been paid 28p as an expense and am looking to claim the balance of 17p per mile (45p less the 28 already paid) up to the 10,000 miles. Can anybody help with this? I have contacted HMRC and was informed that I needed to complete a P87 form, though this seems to be for people that are employed.