Get your Tax, finances and funding sorted to get 2017 off to a great start.

Ever changing rules, regulations, policies and laws are a constant challenge to the self employed. And the last 12 months are no different. So now’s a good time to start looking towards the year ahead and getting yourself sorted.

We’ve taken a look at some of the things worth thinking about now, but remember, when it comes to tax, its always worth consulting an accountant to make sure your OK and doing things right.

  1. Tax Return Deadlines.

Unfortunately, one of the first things you need to think about in 2017 is tax. 31 January is the deadline for paying the balance of any tax from 2015/16, as well as the last day to file your income tax return for 2016/17 … and of course pay your first installment. The tax year 2016/17 finishes on 5 April, and the second installment of tax for the 2016/17 period needs to be paid by 31 July. Additionally, as of April 2017, tax free personal allowance will rise to £11,500. So take some time now, get it right and consult a professional so you don’t fall foul of HMRC.

  1. Register for Self Assessment

As well as paying tax, if you’re new to being self employed, you need to make sure you’re registered for self-assessment and ready to file your tax return. If you filled in a self-assessment tax return for 2016, then you won’t need to re-register. However, if 2016 was your first year, or if you didn’t fill one in for whatever reason – if you ceased trading for a period of time, for example – then you will need to register by 5 October. The deadline for filing your tax return will then be 31 October for paper tax returns, or 31 January 2018 if you file your tax return online.

  1. Universal Credit – are you eligible? It could supplement your income as you start up.

When Universal Credit was rolled out, it was billed as a way of helping the self-employed supplement their income while getting set up. There are some drawbacks, however, in that you must provide extensive documentation in order to qualify, otherwise you may be required to seek alternative employment if you want to receive Universal Credit.

If you’re considering going down this route you may want to check what criteria you need to meet and perhaps pick up part-time work instead while your business is in its infancy.

Universal Credit is being rolled out in phases, so it’s worth noting that at the start of 2017, you will only be eligible for Universal Credit as self-employed if you live in: Bath, Bridgwater, Croydon, Frome, Great Yarmouth, Hammersmith, Harrogate, Hounslow, Inverness, Lancaster, Lowestoft, Morecambe, Musselburgh, Newcastle, Purley, Richmond, Runcorn, Rugby, Ryedale, Southwark, Sutton, Thornton Heath, Wells, Widnes.

  1. Get access to funding

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond said he planned to invest £400 million in the British Business Bank in order to give small companies the chance to grow – but how can the self-employed actually access that?

Well, as it turns out, lending to small businesses is currently at an all-time high, so you may find that going through the traditional route for business funding might not be as difficult as recent economic changes might suggest.

On top of that, the Treasury announced a scheme earlier this year that would allow small business owners who’ve been turned down for a loan to secure alternative finance through one of three platforms.

If you want to know more about securing small business funding through the British Business Bank then check out their website for what they have on offer.