Any new entrants to the contractor game that haven’t checked their calendars of late should probably do so.

31 January – which perhaps should be renamed ‘self assessment day’ (and probably has been in some quarters) – is now less than two weeks away.

FreeAgent – a specialist cloud accounting software provider for freelancers, contractors and micro-businesses – has issued a timely reminder that if you haven’t yet submitted your tax return, or it had slipped your mind completely, get on with it!

But don’t go into it without adequate preparation. FreeAgent’s chief accountant Emily Coltman has offered her insight and advice on what to do, what to look out for, and what not to miss.

The first thing to do says Coltman – if you have not already done so that is – is to register with HMRC to get hold of your unique activiation code. This will be sent to you in the post.

“You simply cannot file your return without this,” she says. “It’s a relatively straightforward process but, as you’re relying on snail mail to get your code, it can take a while to receive the information you need. And if you leave it too late, you won’t get your code in time to be able to meet the January 31st deadline.”

Just as a heads up, any PSC that doesn’t submit their tax return by that date will be hit with a £100 fine. Not the end of the world, but certainly something to avoid if possible.

“In addition, if you don’t pay your tax you’ll also face extra financial penalties which can quickly escalate,” says Coltman. “It’s better to act quickly and register with HMRC now than risk leaving it until it’s too late.”

Coltman also highlights other areas that some self-assessment candidates fall foul of. These include failing to declare all income, and expenditure information.