Self-Assessment Tax Returns for the Neurodivergent

Self-Assessment Tax Returns for the Neurodivergent

I know it can seem a scary process. I know it can cause the neurodiverse (just means dyslexic, autistic, etc) and those struggling with mental health to panic.

The best way to look at a process that seems overwhelming is to break it down into stages.  


- The tax year started on Friday the 6th of April 2018.

- The tax year finished on Friday the 5th of April 2019.

Step 1. Register

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- UTR = Unique Taxpayer Reference

- If you don’t already have one you will need to register for one.

- This is just a label HMRC uses to recognise you by.

Step 2. SA Code

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- If you are using an accountant (that’s basically what agent means), you will need to give them an authorisation code - like a one-off password.

- This is just HMRC’s way of making sure you have given permission for them to do your tax return.

- Your accountant will explain how to request one.

Step 3. Collecting Data

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- Expenses claimed need to be justifiable to HMRC (if they ask for it). This just means stick to the ones you can prove.

- Technology is your friend here - anything ordered online has easily accessible receipts.

- You can go into a bank and request statements to be printed.

- If you haven’t got many receipts, then don’t panic. Claim what you have got and for the new tax year put a system in place. A draw to put receipts in or take photos and email them to yourself.

Step 4. Using the data

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- You can do your own self-assessment.

- Make that cup of tea and work your way through it, should you feel confident in doing this.

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- Or, you can throw it all in an envelope and send it to your accountant!

- Probably best to do it recorded delivery, wouldn’t want to lose anything.

Step 4. Rebate or Liability

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- Once it has been submitted you just need to wait to hear back.

- If you got a rebate you have overpaid tax and get some back!

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- A liability is just a fancy way of saying you owe some money.

- If you owe them money be sure to pay by January 31st.

- But at least it is all done for another year!

My Advice

  1. Start early. Just do step 1. Don’t even think about the stages ahead. Just do that one stage you are on.

  2. If you are using an accountant I would advise you to be honest with them, before signing up to them. Find one that seems understanding and supportive.

  3. Know that you are not an accountant. You do not need to understand it all. Just know the bits you need to do (those bits up there ^)

  4. Take a breath and walk away if it starts effecting your health. Pick it back up when you are ready.

  5. Tell your accountant when you need space. If they are pushing you to respond it is because they think you won’t reply or are ignoring them. Tell them you need to take the process slowly.

  6. If you are worried about the process, please reach out to myself or someone else that can help you. You do not have to use Exchequer (who I work for) to get in touch with me. I can’t offer specific tax advise but I can help to support you through the process.

Boring disclaimer: This article is not affiliated with Exchequer Accountancy Services. If, however, you wish to use an understanding and supportive firm then I would gladly recommend them for the neurodiverse or those struggling with anxiety/depression.

Illustrations, as always, by the incredible Sanna H.

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