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If you are a self-employed sole trader, partnership or limited company in the UK a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number is required. The number is unique to the individual or organisation and will never change.

You will also need a UTR if you have other forms of income or expenses that require you to file a Self-Assessment tax return.

Should you not yet have a UTR you will be unable to submit your self-assessment tax return and could run the risk of upsetting HMRC. Penalties are introduced by HMRC for late filing.

So, to help reiterate the importance of UTR numbers and how to correctly acquire your own, we’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to shed some light on their role in tax return submissions.

What is a UTR?

A UTR helps HMRC identify and process tax returns against the correct taxpayer’s records.

If you have income outside of PAYE or own a business and don’t act compliantly when it comes to your Self-Assessment tax return, you could face criminal prosecution.

Who uses them? 

Any individual with self-employed income or income from rental property probably forms the biggest group that will need a UTR.

These individuals will need to perform a Self-Assessment tax return. For other taxpayers, it may also be relevant when registering for the Construction Industry Scheme or working with an accountant.

How can I get one?

As you won’t receive a UTR number unless you’re registered as either self-employed or a new business, you’ll need to do so on HMRC’s website. Alternatively, you can call them on 0300 200 3310. There is no cost to doing either.

Be careful if you have already started trading. HMRC expects you to register within at least three months of the end of your first month in business. They will consider strict penalties if you fail to do so.

To avoid these fines, register as soon as you can with all the below information to hand:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Email address
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • National Insurance number
  • The date you started self-employment

Double-check that you have fully completed the process if you’re still waiting on your UTR following registration.

What if I’m already registered?

You should already have a UTR code somewhere. If you’ve misplaced it, start by checking any correspondence that you may have received from HMRC. All previous tax returns will reference it, along with any notices you may have had to file a return, payment reminders or statements of account.

In addition, your HMRC online account will also display the code, provided you can access it. If none of these options prove fruitful, contact the Self-Assessment helpline.

About GoSimpleTax   

​GoSimpleTax software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for freelancers and the self-employed alike to log all their income and expenses. The software will provide you with hints and tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you may have missed.

Get started today, it is free to try – add up to five income and expense transactions per month and see your tax liability in real time at no cost to you. Pay only when you are ready to submit or use other key features such as receipt uploading.

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None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

In September I added the then-newly-announced Job Support Scheme to the calculator, and last month I updated it with the revised employer and government contribution levels – however, just before it was due to start on 1st November, the chancellor announced that the already-running furlough scheme would be extended, first until December and then until the end of March. This is in place of the proposed Job Support Scheme.

It is not yet clear whether the Job Support Scheme will return at the end of March, or if furlough will be extended further, or if some other scheme will be in place. With Covid-19, the future is even harder than usual to predict. For now, I will leave the Job Support Scheme details on the calculator, so you can see what the effects of it might be if it were to be reintroduced. You can of course continue to use the calculator as before to work out the impact of furlough. If it becomes clear that the Job Support Scheme will not be returning, or if it is too confusing for people, I will remove it from the site.

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In light of the current situation with Covid-19, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made a few changes to the Job Support Scheme, so the government is providing more support than they originally planned.

The minimum number of hours which have to be worked to qualify for the scheme has been reduced from 33% of normal hours to 20% of normal hours. The employer’s contribution has been reduced from 33% of the unworked hours to 5% of the unworked hours, and the government contribution has been increased to 62% of the unworked hours (from 33%). This more generous scheme makes a huge difference to small businesses who were worried they would be unable to meet the costs from 1st November. However, it does reduce the minimum amount an employee can be paid from 77% to 73% of their full salary (this is only the case if the number of hours worked is below 33%).

The Salary Calculator’s furlough calculator has been updated with these latest figures.

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The paper return deadline is this month, 31st October, therefore we thought it would be useful to invite Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to explain how best to prepare for the Self-Assessment tax return submission and file with confidence.

New comers to submitting Self-Assessment tax returns, should know it pays to know that there are three ways of filing. Firstly, you can submit via the HMRC site and receive instant acknowledgement post-submission. You can also use commercial software to do this for you. Or, you can send a paper tax return to HMRC in the post.

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to understand your exact responsibility. For those who are self-employed sole traders or Landlords letting out UK property, paper submissions can be complicated as they involve additional forms and documentation.

1. Be conscious of the deadline

Should you choose to file a paper tax return, don’t forget to file before the 31st October deadline. We would recommend sending your paper submission prior to the October deadline, either through recorded delivery or with some proof of posting in order to prove your compliancy.

If you miss the deadline for submitting your paper return, don’t be tempted to file it late – you have until 31st January to complete one online. Just don’t submit both. You will be charged penalties from the 1st February for any late submissions.

2. Organise supplementary pages

Remember, it isn’t enough to submit the main SA100 tax return. You need to bundle it together with the rest of your documentation that references your property or self-employment income.

For any income as a landlord, all that’s required is to file an additional form (SA105) and submit it alongside your regular Self-Assessment tax return.

However, with self-employment, the additional sections required of you could be either the SA103S or the SA103F. The difference between the two is that the former is for those who had an annual turnover below the VAT threshold for the tax year (£85,000 as of 2019/20), and the latter is for those who earn above the VAT threshold.

3. Be open to online and prepare for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax

While you may have historically always submitted your tax return by paper, the vast majority of tax returns are now submitted online. Improvements in technology and the extra three months to file are the main incentives to submit an online tax return.

Having an online account with HMRC allows you to not only extend your filing deadline but also check your details at any time to see how much tax is due and act accordingly.

If you’re happy to tweak the way in which you keep your records and adopt digital record-keeping, this will help minimise admin further, as well as enable you to submit your tax returns and automatically calculate your tax.

Going forward as of April 2023 you will have to file your self-assessment digitally to HMRC providing updates every quarter via your digital platform.

Preparation is key, adopt the right approach now it could save both time and money, make the move to digital ahead of the deadline for MTD for Income Tax.

About GoSimpleTax

GoSimpleTax software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for self-employed sole traders and anyone with income outside of PAYE to log all their income and expenses. The software will provide you with hints and tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you may have missed.

Trial the software today for free – add up to five income and expense transactions per month and see your tax liability in real time at no cost to you. Pay only when you are ready to submit or use other key features such as receipt uploading.

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Note: An earlier version of this post contained old percentages – the post was updated (on 22nd October 2020) to reflect new percentages

From 1st November 2020, the furlough scheme introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being replaced by the Job Support Scheme. This scheme is designed to encourage employers to bring employees back to work part time if possible. The Salary Calculator has been updated to allow you to estimate what effect this will have on your take home pay.

If you work 20% or more of your normal full time hours, some of your “missing” pay for the hours not worked is subsidised by the government. Your employer will pay 5% of the unworked hours, the government will pay 62% of the unworked hours, and the remaining third of unworked hours is unpaid. This does require your employer to pay you for work you are not doing, but the plan is to help people get back to work rather than losing their jobs. If you work a third of your hours, you will receive 77% of your normal pay – slightly below the 80% offered by the furlough scheme. The government contribution is capped at £1,541.75 per month.

To see what effect this might have on your take home pay, check out the Pro Rata Salary Calculator – you can either enter reduced weekly hours, or a percentage of your full time hours – just remember to tick the “Job Support Scheme” box to see what a difference it will make.

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