Getting to grips with small business accounting can be tricky at the best of times, especially when you’re working for yourself and there’s no-one else around to chase you up on your tax dates and deadlines.
To keep you in HMRC’S good books, we’ve put together a timeline of the most important accounting dates in a standard year for the average small business owner or freelancer in the UK. Some dates will change a little from year to year but the deadlines always broadly fall at the same time, so it’s good practice to remember when they are.
Calendar of a typical small business tax year in the UK
Without further ado, here’s how an average tax year for a UK-based small business might look. It’s important to bear in mind that the tax deadlines you have for your own business are unique to your circumstances. Your obligations to HMRC will depend on many factors, such as whether you have any employees or if you’re running your business as a ‘side hustle’ while in full-time employment.
For extra clarity on making sure you’re meeting all of your accounting obligations, we’d highly recommend getting in touch with a friendly local accountant if you’re not working with one already.
1st - Corporation Tax payment deadline (if your limited company’s year end is 31st March)
31st - Self Assessment tax return deadline
31st - First payment on account deadline
7th - The previous year’s last quarterly VAT return filing deadline
6th - New tax year! The Chancellor’s updates to any tax rates, wage rates and minimum pension contributions (among other things!) will come into effect today. We’ll always round up any new tax year changes that might affect you on our blog, so keep your eyes peeled.
19th - Year-end payroll forms deadline - if you have employees, these all need to be filed and the PAYE paid
7th - This year’s first quarterly VAT return filing deadline
31st - Deadline for issuing any employees with their annual P60s
6th - Deadline for filing P11D(b) and issuing P11Ds to any employees (if applicable)
22nd - Deadline for paying Class 1A NIC (again, you’ll only need to pay this on benefits you give to your employees, such as private medical insurance)
31st - Second payment on account deadline
7th - This year’s second quarterly VAT filing deadline
7th - This year’s third quarterly VAT return filing deadline
31st - Deadline for filing your company’s annual accounts if your company’s year end is 31st March (the most common year end date). The payment deadline is the day after this, on January 1st!
A note on VAT return deadlines
To quote our very own accounting glossary:
"A VAT return is a form you file with HMRC to show how much VAT you are due to pay them. If you're not registered for VAT, you won't file VAT returns."
The vast majority of small businesses will file a VAT return four times a year. Whether through Government Gateway or through Making Tax Digital (MTD). The most common set of quarterly VAT return dates is:
- 1st January - 31st March
- 1st April - 30th June
- 1st July - 30th September
- 1st October - 31st December
Each VAT return is due for filing one month and seven days after the end of one of these quarterly periods. So for example, the VAT return that covers 1st January - 31st March needs to be filed to HMRC by 7th May.
A note on payments on account
If less than 80% of your income is paid at source and your tax bill is over £1,000, you’ll need to make payments on account. These are advance payments on your next year’s Self Assessment tax bill. Your payments on account are calculated by the total of your most recent Self Assessment tax return, divided by two. You need to make the first payment in January, and the second payment in July.
FreeAgent’s Tax Timeline to the rescue
If you happen to use FreeAgent, you’ll notice that all of these deadlines appear in your personal Tax Timeline on your overview screen.
Keeping track of all of your tax deadlines and figuring out how much to set aside for each of them can be tricky! Let FreeAgent take the stress out of your small business schedule with personalised Tax Timeline functionality, and much more. Try FreeAgent for free with a 30-day trial today.