For locum GPs everywhere, January is probably the month where you’re finding yourself rummaging through paperwork frantically, and attempting to make sense of your finances. From government ID reference numbers, right through to double checking expenditure, submitting tax returns online isn’t always an easy process – especially when the deadline to file and pay is January 31st.

When Surina, one of our creators, started working as a locum GP, she found that learning how to manage the business side of self employed work can be extremely challenging. This led to her working with medical accountants in order to create an online tool that simplifies the process: MyLocumManager.

Here are Surina’s 10 top tips for submitting your tax return as painlessly as possible.

  1. Gather any necessary paperwork

As a self employed locum GP, it’s vital that you keep a full record of your accounts and your expenses for the last 12 months. You also need to review your bank statements and record how much interest you have accrued over the last tax year. Both of these things are to be submitted in online tax returns, and it’s important that all amounts are recorded correctly.

  1. Make sure you have your access codes to hand

If you’re filing online for the first time, you need to have your unique taxpayer reference (UTR), which can be found on letters from HMRC.  You’ll then need to create a Government Gateway account, and your activation code will be sent in the post. Activation codes usually arrive within 7 days to arrive, and you must activate your code within 28 days; otherwise, it will expire and you’ll have to request a new one.

If you’ve used the Self Assessment online service before, you will already have a Government Gateway user ID number, which was posted to you when you first signed up. Once you’ve got your ID number to hand, you’ll need to sign in to your HMRC online account. If you have misplaced your login details you can find out how to get new ones here.

  1. If you have any questions about filing tax returns online, be sure to look online first

Although calling HMRC can be helpful, it’s also extremely time-consuming as most people are kept on hold until an advisor is available. Instead, try looking online for the answer to your questions, before giving them a call. Helpsheets and guidance notes can be found on the government’s website. If you do need to speak to someone, the number for HMRC’s Self Assessment helpline is 0300 200 3310.

  1. Don’t forget to claim your expenses

When working out your online tax return, be aware that you can subtract business expenses from your income to determine your taxable profit. These are called ‘allowable expenses’ and you should have a good understanding of which expenses are allowable, so that you pay the right amount of tax.

Furthermore, the expenses you can subtract from your income include indemnity costs, mileage, travel costs, equipment and office costs. In case you need a little assistance in subtracting expenses from your income, here are more details on the government’s page on self-employed expenses. If you undertake some work from home, you can deduct a certain portion of your household utility bills. There’s a simplified flat rate you can use to save you working out exact proportions of personal use versus business use. To keep this process as simple and straightforward as possible, we’ve created a checklist of expenses you can claim as a locum GP here:


                                                                                Get Locum Expense Checklist


  1. Make sure your finances add up correctly

Considering HMRC issue fines to individuals that don’t have the correct figures in their tax returns, it is imperative that you cross reference your numbers before submitting your tax returns online. Trawl through your bank to check that you have been paid for every locum session, keep track of the pension payments you’ve made, your mileage throughout the year, and any expenses you’ve incurred over the year. Doing all this checks will ensure your numbers are correct and will prevent you from receiving a fine from HMRC.

  1. Remember your pension tax relief

Pensions are a tax-efficient form of saving. You receive tax relief on contributions that you pay into your pension. Your self assessment tax form is the place to claim additional tax relief on your pension contributions: another 20% if you’re a higher rate taxpayer, and an extra 25% if you’re an additional rate taxpayer. You can currently get tax relief on pension contributions up to 100% of your salary, up to a maximum of £40,000.

  1. File on time to ensure you aren’t charged late penalties

Filing self assessment tax returns online after the deadline will lead to an immediate £100 fine. Penalties continue to be added until your tax bill is paid, and you will also be charged interest on your outstanding bill. Contact HMRC if you are unsure on whether you have the funds to pay your tax bill as they might be able to extend the deadline or allow you to pay in manageable installments. 

  1. Paying your tax bill

Once you’ve successfully filed your tax return, it’s then time to pay your tax bill. It’s important to be aware that the deadline for paying your tax bill is the same as the deadline for filing your tax return: 31st January.

However, try to consider the fact that payments can take a few days to clear, so we recommend transferring the money before the deadline to ensure it is processed on time.

  1. Medical accountants can be of benefit

Medical accountants will not only save you money on tax, they’ll also offer advice on how you can be tax efficient.

One of the main benefits of hiring a medical accountant to assist with your tax returns is to reduce the possibility of billing errors, and to make sure all figures mentioned on your tax return are correct. This will ensure you don’t receive a hefty fine for late payment or incorrect information.

  1. Start getting organized for the next tax return

If completing your tax return this year’s been stressful, start putting measures in place now to make future tax returns more manageable. You could begin with setting up a business bank account that separates your self employed work from your personal account. This enables you to easily and efficiently keep track of your income and expenditure, thus simplifying the process of filing your next self assessment tax returns online.