Authors are self-employed and writing should be treated like a business. If this is your first year, and you still haven’t filed your tax return, get a flaming move on! Filing online is the way forward and HMRC registration can take up to 10 days to provide you with your UTR confirmation code, so it’s in your interest to get that paperwork ready nice and early. Don’t forget: the deadline is the 31st of January! It is vital that you keep your accounts in order, and leaving them to the last minute is not wise in the least. Alas, if this is you, don’t waste any more time, do it now and next year plan ahead. There are very good reasons to fill in the tax return asap, and here they are. 1. AVOID SPENDING EXTRA MONEY Leaving your self assessment to January could mean a higher tax bill – and do you have the extra money to cover it? After all January comes after December, a month notorious for extra expenses. Even if you are ONE day late, you will be fined £100. 2. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO FILL THE FORM IN A RELAXING MANNER My tax year folder contains a huge collection of invoices, receipts, bank statements and all sorts of paper trails. Extra time allows you to go through your figures, double check your paper trail, count and recount to make sure everything is accounted for. Why give yourself a heart attack, when you could do it in your own sweet time? I have 4 jobs, as some of you know, three of which are in the self-employed category. The tax year ends on the 4th of April, and by the end of May my tax return is done and dusted. In order to do this, I update my ledgers (physical and digital) every time money go in and out of the accounts; in this way I know I won’t forget a single transaction. I have a paper copy of every invoice/credit notes/bank statements, etc., neatly filed in my trusted folder. Moreover, I am responsible for the royalties payments of the Luna authors, so yes – order and precision are paramount. These means that if I have to check something, I know immediately where to find it, and if HMRC wants to audit your records, you have them ready to go. Trust me, it pays off. 4. ENJOY BOTH THE SUMMER AND WINTER HOLIDAYS If you file in the spring, you can enjoy your summer holiday and the winter holidays in style. Who would want to eat and be merry, with the image of a tax-return looming in the back of their mind? Self-assessment can be done by yourself alone, without any external support. However, there is help to be had, proportionate to the amount of money you are in a position of spending. a) DIY calling HMRC helpline to clarify what is not clear. I always found them extremely useful. b) DIY, but ask for an accountant to look over your calculations. If you go down this route, remember that December is NOT the right time to find an accountant, as they will be busy bees. c) DIY but with the aid of a software – there are plenty out there, try them for free and find your favourite one. d) Pay an accountant to do it all for you. All paperwork has to be kept in order and will need to be delivered in good time. It’s that moment when someone asks you about your self-assesment status and you go, “What tax return? I did mine aaaaages ago!”, looking fly like the Wizard of Oz. Go on then: the deadline is the 31st of January!