Everything bloggers need to know about their tax self-assessment

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably left your tax self-assessment return to the very last minute. Perhaps you’re even worse than me and didn’t realise the Self Assessment submission deadline is midnight on the 31st January! But it is fast upon us and most of us avoid it until we really have to face it; last year, 33,000 people filed in the final hour, while a staggering 840,000 people missed the deadline altogether. If it’s late, HMRC delivers a straight £100 fine; with even more penalties if it continues to be missed.

You get the idea. It’s a faff but it needs to be done. To avoid getting stressed,  I’ve teamed up with SimpleTax to share lots of expert advice and tips on filling in your tax return properly as a blogger. Make sure you read to the bottom of the post so you can claim a 14 day completely free trial (bank details not needed) of SimpleTax to help you fill in your return with zero effort!

Do I need to submit a tax return as a blogger?

If you’ve earned a penny from your blog, then you need to register (do this here). However, you pay tax a year behind-so if you earned money from your blog between April 2016-April 2017 then you’ll need to submit a return. If you’ve started earning after April 2017, then still register but you’re off the hook until 2019 (although early birds can do this from April 2018) Come back and read this then or read on to be super-prepared!

Tips to make filing your Self Assessment simple as a blogger

-Explore which expenses you’re entitled to, as well as the forms you’ll have to fill in. Expenses for bloggers can include…

  • Everything to run your site: hosting fees, editing software, stock images, Facebook Boosts etc.
  • Any ebooks or e-courses you’ve bought to help grow your blog-even my Pitching Toolkit counts! Tip-go back through your Amazon orders- you can easily download receipts and you’d be surprised how many books you may have purchased over the year! However, these need to be to help you brush up on your existing skills as a blogger and can’t include courses and books you used to set-up as a blogger in the first place. (HMRC states that courses for career changes can’t be expensed, but a course to enhance and develop your career can)
  • Equipment purchased (even if purchased before April 2016) to get your blog up and running-e.g buying the domain, buying a laptop or camera. This is a great site for learning more about claiming pre-trade.
  • A rate for working from home. Even if you just work weekends on your blog, you can claim this, more here.
  • A percentage of your phone bills (you’ll need to decide on a rate of which you use this for blogging and be able to justify it) if you use your phone for social media, blogging and chatting with PRs.
  • Travel to events and tickets for blogger events. You can claim mileage even if you don’t have receipts (just keep a log of journeys). However, it’s savvy to keep receipts for petrol if you can (you can use SimpleTax’s system to quickly take a photo of them and upload straight to your tax return!)

But be careful- you’ll need to be able to prove it’s led to you making money. So, no you can’t claim a Primark haul for a Youtube video, but if you’ve gone to a blogger event to meet brands, you can absolutely claim tickets to the event and travel, since it’s helped secure further work!

            Keep a log of all your expenses to save on tax owed!

Know what paperwork your income requires – whether it’s self-employed paperwork or you are also a landlord; it is going to save hours of potential panic. Make sure these are available in the software you’re using to file. If you have another job, you’ll need a P60 to input how much tax you paid for that (tip: if you can’t find it, HMRC can provide you with this info)

-Compile receipts and match them to bank statements, ensuring you have all the evidence you need to back up your expense claims. Don’t panic if you can’t find receipts, reasonable evidence (like a regular payment going out of your bank each month for something like Canva) should suffice. BUT each £100 receipt lost can mean an extra £29 of tax to pay-so be savvy!

Use cloud software, such as SimpleTax, to eliminate the need for an accountant. Bloggers don’t often earn a full-time wage so this can help save an accountant’s fee (the average being £250). SimpleTax is such an easy to use piece of software that analyses what you owe, cross-reference against your information, identify eligible expenses and provide the relevant forms for Self Assessment, as well as checking your return for errors and sending it straight to HMRC, avoiding any stress!!

Do gifted items count as income?

Finally, this is a question I see asked a lot. If you are specifically gifted an item in lieu of payment, then yes technically it needs to be declared. So if you are in agreement with a brand to write one blog post in exchange for £100 worth of clothes, you’ll need to add those to income. However, if you are gifted items or sent ‘blogger mail’ without any formal arrangement or promised coverage, then these count as gifts and don’t need to be declared.

 Give SimpleTax a try for FREE

SimpleTax is designed to make it really easy to complete your Self Assessment, even if you’re not an expert. Created by GoSimple Software and recognised by HMRC, it streamlines the Self Assessment process and provides all the forms you needed to declare your earnings, with helpful tips along the way on things like expenses you might not have claimed! All my readers can try a 14 day trial of SimpleTax so give it a go today (no bank details are needed to sign-up) and get your self-assessment submitted stress-free and on time.

Before you go...

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This post is in collaboration with SimpleTax

16 Comments

  1. January 17, 2018 / 10:44 am

    This is such an informative post – thank you! It is such a confusing topic, but you’ve made it a lot clearer 🙂

  2. January 17, 2018 / 10:58 am

    Thanks for sharing this it is so useful to hear exactly what needs to be done as it all can be very daunting. Sarah

  3. January 17, 2018 / 1:40 pm

    This is amazing thank you with the self assessment deadline coming up I’ll be Pinning this to return to the end of this week so I can use it as a checklist thank you!

  4. January 17, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    This is such a great insight for any blogger thank you so much for that i be saving your post

    • dxoxo
      January 22, 2018 / 10:42 am

      yep it’s great!

  5. January 18, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    Great information on tax assessment here. I always like to get mine done as soon as possible.

  6. January 18, 2018 / 10:30 pm

    This was so helpful. I still find this daunting but your tips made a lot of sense. i feel I’ll be better organised next time round

  7. January 19, 2018 / 4:51 pm

    This is honestly so helpful! I remember doing it for the first time last year and being so over my head but luckily I brushed up on it. This is just perfect for explaining everything.

    • dxoxo
      January 22, 2018 / 10:42 am

      thanks Jordanne!

  8. January 22, 2018 / 7:46 pm

    Really useful post for bloggers. Don’t forget stationery, postage, subscriptions can be claimed too. And PayPal fees on invoices received.

  9. January 22, 2018 / 11:11 pm

    This is such a useful post for people starting out with them. I am really shocked by the number that miss the deadline. I am so bad with things like this but when I was getting anxious by November and just wanted it done!

  10. January 23, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Great tips.
    I think people think it’s scarier than it should be but once you’ve done it once it’s so much easier the next time

  11. January 23, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    What a fab post; I love how you’ve broken it all down. Hopefully people can now see it as a less overwhelming task x

    • dxoxo
      January 23, 2018 / 8:23 pm

      Thanks so much Maria!

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