How (not) to do your tax return

30 October 2008

There are two types of people in the world (well actually there are many more than that but for the purpose of this blog there are just two) – those who file their tax returns on time –nay well before the deadline, and then those who manage to file it a day or two before T–day. I most certainly belong to the second camp.

Despite having had to fill out tax returns for the last few years and the theory that you can complete one in 20 minutes– or even less for the professionals, I can still make a right mess out of them. It’s not so much the form–filling that sends me into a blind panic but the bit that precedes it. If you have a file for your pay–slips, invoices and bank statements, ordered chronologically and neatly separated with file dividers then come tax return time all your info is easily at hand and you’ve got nothing to worry about.

But if you are like me and have a less orthodox take on organisation: sporadically ‘filing’ invoices, pay slips and other important documents in various drawers, and any spare space going, then the 31st October’s ‘Fright night’ tag takes on a whole different fiscal connotation.

After spending most of the year not thinking about my self–assessment, my accountant uncle’s number is on speed dial and I do enough rooting around at home for my p60 to make your average breaking and entering crim. look like a neat freak.

That’s it though, Working for a financial magazine and website means I really should know better so I’m going to WH Smith this weekend and getting a snazzy (somehow that helps) new box file to keep all the bits and pieces in. And next year I might even venture to filling out the self–assessment online – it will give me more time and as I have to send it off special delivery, will considerably reduce my annual average of hours spent in the Post Office queue. I can already hear my uncle merrily whistling ‘zip a dee do dah’… while I write this…

Further Tax deadlines:

4 November 2008  – If you haven’t managed to post off your self–assessment form yet you can hand it in to your local tax office by next Tuesday.

31 January 2009 – This is the deadline for online forms
                         –  It’s also the date for when you have to pay the balance on any tax you owe for the last tax year.

28 February 2009 – From this date you will be charged an automatic 5% surcharge on top of the amount you owe if you’ve not already paid your tax bill.

31 July 2009 – Second automatic 5% surcharge put on top of what you owe.


Nathalie Bonney is editorial assistant at Moneywise.