It will make things much easier if you have the right papers before you try to fill in your return. If you intend to file on-line, it often helps to fill in a paper copy of the return first, so that you know you have all the right figures. The type of records you need for various sorts of income are listed below. Do not send any of this paperwork to HMRC, unless you are specifically asked to do so.
Employment Income (and pension income, other than the state pension):
Form P60 (year-end summary of tax and gross income) for employments held at 5 April in the tax year; Form P45 for any jobs you have left during the tax year; Form P2 PAYE notice of coding (if you have been received one). You may also want to have payslips and bank statements available.
A summary of your rental income and expenses, bills for expenses, bank statements, letting agreements. Take particular care to separate repairs, replacements and improvement expenses.
a summary of interest received from your statements or passbook – be careful to note if the interest has been paid with deduction of tax at source. For dividend income you will need the dividend statements. Note that from 6 April 2016, most sources of interest will not have tax deducted at source. They way savings income is taxed also changes from the 2016-17 tax year.
Social Security Benefits:
A letter from the DWP showing the amount of your state pension or other taxable benefit. For Jobseeker’s Allowance there should be a form P60U.
A summary of your business income and expenses for the tax year and the supporting papers – bank statements, sales invoices and receipts for expenses, paying in books, cash books, details of any loans, lease or HP agreements. There is more advice on the HMRC website at https://www.gov.uk/self-employed-records.
Contract notes for the sale and purchase of assets such as shares, antiques. Details of period of occupation and letting, for houses which have at some stage been your main private residence, but have also been rented out to tenants.
These lists are not exhaustive. If your return is selected for an enquiry, you may be asked to explain to HMRC where any large amount of money has come from, or how you have provided money to fund your overall lifestyle. This might include, for example:
- documents recording loans made and received
- documents recording cash gifts made and received
- betting win records
How long you need to keep your records:
You need to keep your records at least until 12 months from the date you file your tax return. If you filed your tax return late, or you are subject to a tax enquiry, you will need to keep the records longer. It is good idea to keep your records for more than 12 months as HMRC may ask for information about earlier years – up to 20 years in cases of suspected fraud, up to 6 years if they consider you have not taken reasonable care when preparing a return, and up to 4 years in other cases.
If you are self-employed, you need to keep your records for at least 5 years from the filing date for the tax return on which your profits for that year are included.