It’s that time again. Whether you’re a small business owner, sole trader or just do a bit of freelancing to support your income, the last chance to submit your tax calculations for the year is the 31st of January. SimpleTax is an online service that helps you to do that.
The official system for tax return submission went online a couple of years ago. You still need to know all the jargon and rules to properly calculate your income and outgoings using HMRC’s official site. SimpleTax gives the Inland Revenue a lesson in interface design, creating a system that does exactly the same thing as the government department’s own service - with approximately 80% less hassle.
We’ve reviewed SimpleTax before, firstly in its nascent, post-beta phase. The core features are still there in this latest version - and have been streamlined since we last looked. SimpleTax divides all you business finances into three categories: Income, Expenses and Equipment. All you have to do is fill in the details (including your tax registration information).
SimpleTax: In and Out
SimpleTax takes a straightforward approach to self-assessment, calculating your tax for you and enabling you to file online.
Starting with the “Income” category, the system gives you the opportunity to work through subcategories of payment you may have received in the course of your business. For most SMBs and individuals that will be a simple list of sales. In the “Expenses” category the subcategories are more extensive “Groups”. If you’re new to filling in your tax books, the headings will give you a good idea of the expenditure that you can actually claim for - from entertainment through to office supplies.
The final, smaller category is for equipment. This is treated differently to general expenses because hardware purchases are viewed by the tax office as an investment in your company - capital expenditure.
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To add any item, whether Income, Expense or Equipment, you click the “Add” symbol, choose a category and add it to the list. SimpleTax does all the calculations for you, filling in separate parts of the form automatically from the information you enter. It’ll tell you how much you owe HMRC straightaway and generate a digital form for you to submit.
SimpleTax: Import Information
The last time we looked at SimpleTax our biggest criticism was that it didn’t support imported documentation. If you’re using the service for the first time and have your sales for the year in a spreadsheet or another app, that meant you had to manually enter all the data again.
That’s now been fixed - and fixed very well. You can import financial information from online competitor FreeAgent, desktop money manager QuickBooks or, most usefully, Google Drive Spreadsheets. There’s also an add-on that enables import from Excel.
It’s a very welcome upgrade to what was already an easy to use system. Another big change is that the program is now entirely free. When we last reviewed the service there was a fee for submitting your return of £49.
SimpleTax is a great service for those with straightforward tax affairs but who lack the confidence to do their own calculations. Accountancy fees can be an unwelcome expense at this time of year, but SimpleTax does a similar job - for free. Best of all, it demystifies the whole process, showing in simple terms what you can and can’t claim for.