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How To Save Your Tax Return So You Can Find It

You’re diligent about saving your self assessment tax return to your laptop or computer every year.

You know how important it is to have that file, and to have at least 2 backups, in different places.

You know having a copy of your tax return is a legal requirement.

Who has done all that and still can’t find the file when you need it?


How To Save Your Tax Return So You Can Find It

I am particular about always saving 2 copies of my self assessment tax return each year.

I am particular about having back ups.

However, I’m not perfect and today I found myself needing a copy of a previous year’s tax return to file my parental support section of my stepson’s student finance application – and I could not find my tax return.

I couldn’t write to HMRC, as my stepson has left doing his student finance application until 2 weeks before the deadline.

(This is an improvement on last year, where I found out I had half an hour).

It’s all come about as I changed computers in January and a lot of files got moved from their usual places in the transition. 2015 has been so full (an abundance of clients, co-founding EU VAT Action, BBC Radio, Daily Mail) I have been short on time to put order back into my personal files.

So I’m writing this article to say where you can get a copy of your last tax return and how to name your tax return files so wherever the file gets moved to, you can find it.

I’ll then finish with some tips for Mac users (because I have a Mac) about how you can search your backups at the same time, which is very handy when you have time pressure.


How To Get A Copy Of Your Last Tax Return Quickly

You need:

  • Your Government Gateway Self Assessment Online user ID
  • Your password
  • Breathe

1. Breathe

Firstly, let’s calm your breathing, as I bet you’re feeling less than relaxed at the moment. When your body triggers cortisol and adrenaline, you are less likely to find what you need as your thinking and doing ability is compromised.

Click here for a breathing technique that’s simple and easy.

Click here for an anti-monster calming spray, if HMRC triggers your monster-under-the-bed response.

2. Your Self Assessment Online user ID and password

Secondly, log in to Self Assessment Online and you’ll get the Welcome Back screen. Click View/Print/Store your return onto your local drive and click Save a colour copy (this method may change, so have a look around if it’s different).

3. Name that file

Thirdly, naming the file. This is super important to save yourself from the drama next time.

Are you continuing to breathe calmly? 🙂

Read on.


How To Name Your Tax Return Files So You Can Find Them Easily & Quickly

You know how it is.

You submit your return, you click download, the phone rings and you click ‘save’ automatically without changing the file name or the save path. Dinner is cooking and you finish that after the phone call.

Your mind knows you saved your tax return and it’s ticked Done in your brain so you don’t remember to go back to edit the file name and location. So the file name is the original one in whichever location save was defaulting into at the time.

You have your copy of your tax return – except you can’t find it.

(If this happened to you and you’re also a fan of Denise Duffield-Thomas, altogether now ‘even though I messed up correctly naming and saving my tax return, I deeply love and accept myself’. You may want to substitute, ‘even though I didn’t save a copy of my tax return at all, I deeply love and accept myself’. No shame.)

How to name and save your tax return so you can instantly find it:

  • Your name(s): Your legal name and the name you use in daily/professional life
  • What it is: Self Assessment Tax Return
  • Tax year: e.g. 2014-2015, 14-15, 2014-15
  • UTR: Your unique tax reference, optional
[Legal first name] [Daily/professional use first name] [Legal surname] [Daily/professional use surname] [Self Assessment] [Tax return] [Variations on the tax year] [UTR]

For example:

Kermit Kermie Piggy The Frog Piggy Self Assessment Tax Return 2014-2015 14-15 2014-15

You’re aiming to include all the variations you could search for a long time later when it’s 2am, you’re half asleep, you’re on your 5th cup of coffee, you had an inadvisable glass of wine earlier that evening, feel ill from the packet of chocolate biscuits you ate – and you must find your tax return in the next 20 minutes.

Logic is tucked up in bed asleep at such times, hence why you need the variations. You’re not necessarily going to remember you named it ‘tax return’ if you’re being asked for your self assessment.

Yes, it’s a long file name. You’ll thank me when you find what you need in 3 seconds flat so you hit your deadline and get the fuck to sleep.

Adding your UTR

Your UTR can be added onto the end if you want an easy way of finding it.

It’s your Unique Tax Reference and can be asked for by institutional/company/corporate clients who need to establish you are self-employed. HMRC often ask for it too, and you’ll need it every year for your tax return.

Adding your UTR to the file name means all you need to do is put in your name and tax return and boom, there’s your UTR.


Are You Feeling A Bit Down At This Point?

It’s easy to feel down when you can’t find an important file when you need it, especially one that is a tax document you have a legal requirement to keep.

And especially especially when you’re under time pressure.

It’s easy to feel you can’t really do this stuff. You’re not good enough. You’re bad at numbers. You’re bad at maths. You’re bad at money. You’re not a real proper grown up business person.

Everyone messes up, even government departments can’t be 100% on top of it all the time.


Watch this video for a confidence boost (starts at 0.39). Even one of the world’s most talented beings can doubt himself.

Do some tapping on your money blocks (free resources on money blocks here and here. You can also download my free money systems audit).

And finally….


How To Search Your Backups On A Mac

I have a lot of back ups.

I use Crashplan, Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon Drive and Backblaze. Some are back ups in the true sense, in case something goes fuck up with my computer (hard drive failure etc).

Most are what I call mini back ups, where I have files in multiple places.

The beauty of this is that I can access them all from my laptop, even though the data is stored in different locations. So if I can’t find the ‘original’ file on my laptop in a few seconds, I can search in my ‘back ups’ straight from my laptop.

What you do is add Dropbox and Google Drive (and it may work with Amazon Drive) to your Finder Favourites. You can then search all of them at once.

It’s that simple and a real sanity saver when you have time pressure.


How do you save your tax return files so you can easily find them?


Why not downloaded my free money systems audit?



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