Any good book on UK tax return for 2007/08?
Thread poster: Sonja Allen

Sonja Allen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:11
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Jul 24, 2008

In the next two months I want to tackle my tax return on my own. I therefore looked in the bookshops and library about books that might help me but found them all quite unsuitable as they often talk about things that do not necessary apply to translators and do not give much information about what a freelancer with a home office can really claim as business expense etc. Can anyone make a good recommendation?


JPW (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
You can do it online... Jul 24, 2008

If you visit HMRC (presumably, you are registered as self-employed), you can register and submit your tax return online. Doing it that way, I would like to think that they give you all the help you could possibly need.

Or if you are filing a paper return, the good-old fashioned way, again if you search the site for HMRC I am sure there are guides too:

This link is a brief intro to the online system, and there is even a demo for self-employed persons.

But I quickly noticed that for certain types of business (not specified by them) you cannot yet submit an online tax return as they haven't got all the [supplementary] forms ready yet.

If you think you can claim for something then I would include it in the tax return, the worst that will happen is that they won't allow it, whereas if you don't include it, they will definitely not allow it, as they won't know about it!!


Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:11
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
DIY Jul 24, 2008

A few years ago I bought a computer program called TaxCalc, price (from memory) around £50. I find it very good, because it displays a complete a tax return on screen as it looks on paper. It is rather as if the tax return were on an Excel spreadsheet, in other words it also does various calculations for you. Best of all, it contains very extensive help information, for example about claimable expenses. I think it is excellent and I now use it every year. Round about April every year they email an invitation to upgrade to the current tax year's software, price around £20. Much better than getting a revised tax book every year.

If you are registered in advance with HMRC, Taxcalc will also send your return electronically, and shortly thereafter you will get an acknowledgement from HMRC. Best to avoid Jan 31, at any other time it works excellently. That return will form the basis for the next year's return.

As for what you can and can't claim, the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting) sometimes organises a talk by an HMRC adviser about self-assessment for the self-employed. These talks are very helpful, (but none scheduled at the moment). HMRC also issue a guidance document called (would you believe) self-assessment for the self-employed, obtainable at

It has a long list of allowable and non-allowable expenses. Basically, you can claim any reasonable expense that enables you to run your business better. So expenses for attending a ProZ conference would count. You can even claim 20p a mile for using a bicycle for business purposes ( eg to visit a client etc). But the key rule is to avoid mixing business with pleasure. If you go skiing, and happen to drop in on a ProZ conference, and claim the travel, might raise eyebrows. But HMRC accept that as a translator, you need occasional language immersion in your source language countries.

HMRC emphasise these days that unlike before, when you had to prepare a profit and loss account, these days a simple cash book should be enough to complete your tax return accurately. You might still find it worth while to show your TaxCalc output to an accountant, not necessarily every year, to make sure, but that will be far cheaper than paying an accountant to sort out all your invoices and expenses. Also, doing your own tax return gives you a clear view of your financial situation. Go for it!


Alison MacG  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:11
German to English
+ ...
Have you considered attending an HMRC workshop? Jul 24, 2008

The Business Support Team at HMRC runs free workshops all year round. I became self-employed in January 2007 and in May of that year attended two workshops, one entitled "Becoming self-employed" and the other "Self-assessment for the self-employed". There was a bit of overlap, but the second one dealt in great detail with filling in your tax return and gave lots of useful tips and information, including information not always readily available on the website or in leaflets. I would highly recommend it and would not have liked to fill in my first tax return before attending.

Follow this link for details of what's available and how to book.

Good luck!


JPW (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good advice... Jul 24, 2008

...from Peter and Alison.

I would also recommend a workshop attendance too (they must do them up and down the whole country) and I am actually waiting for one to crop in my part of the world (I pay UK taxes too...).

Basically, if you incur expenses in the day-to-day running of your business, then it's a claimable expense. But as has been said, HMRC will have a checklist of the most common things which people claim for: what's allowed and not allowed.

Remember, it's always best to get it from the horse's mouth, so if in doubt, check the website, or phone them up. I've always found them pretty (/fairly/very) helpful, considering they're the ones whose job is to take money off you!!


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Any good book on UK tax return for 2007/08?

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