Sometimes the smallest of things can give you a new sense of well being and confidence.
The honest truth is that I have few sources of income in my advancing years – and many outgoings, but that’s another story – and, if I was an accountant, or the type to be well-organised and efficient, or even perhaps actually cared about money to the extent I should, I have little doubt that I would be capable of filling in my own annual income tax forms online and being done with it.
Many people in my social circles do.
Instead, largely because in my days of yore I had a slightly more complicated set-up than I do now, I have had a tame accountant for the last thirty years. I don’t think he’d care (if he ever found out) that I would not go so far as to describe him as an Einstein as regards accounting genius, but he’s a rock-solid operator who tells it like it is and possesses absolutely zero airs and graces.
Which is how I like my accountants.
And that’s why I pay around £500 per annum to have him chase me about supplying him with my few financial comings and goings every year in advance of him taking care of making my income tax return for me.
His chasings habitually begin about June every year (the tax year having concluded each 5th April, of course) and I run a file into which I chuck every C60 or P45, or whatever they are, whenever I have noticed they’ve arrived in the mail.
My accountant’s follow-up – and more insistent – reminders then begin arriving about September, then October … and then finally, shortly before Christmas, he sends me the “look, mate – please can you attend to this pronto, because shortly I shall be entering my busiest period of the year …” [his busiest period of the year being the month up to 31st January, after which any personal tax returns covering the previous financial year (this time 2016-2017, obviously) that have not been submitted run the risk of attracting penalty payments for not having been submitted before the deadline expires].
Dear readers, yesterday I managed to obtain the final item in my ‘little list’ – at least the final one that I was capable of supplying – and then rang my accountant to tell him (1) that this was the position, but that (2) the final, final item he required (a statement of my Governmental pension payments received and/or tax already paid) remained outstanding.
I should elaborate.
After nearly a week of searching everywhere I could think of for said item– my filing system has always been a bit hit and miss – I had admitted defeat to myself and yesterday first thing rang the Government Pension telephone line.
After the expected false start (inevitably, the official phone number had changed since they last wrote to me and so I had to take down a new number to call) I got through to somebody who cheerily informed me that they never automatically send out an income tax-year statement – as the banks and building societies do: they only send one out if someone requests it.
Of which fact – inevitably, of course – nobody had ever taken the trouble to inform me.
Of course, having assumed that the logical thing was and is that they always do send one but that (through my always haphazard approach to life and my filing) I had mislaid it somewhere in my flat, I had been searching in vain for it – on and off – since about last July without success.
Anyway. Hiding his astonishment that I had actually shown signs of life at all as best he could, my accountant responded to the effect that, of course, the Pensions people had always been a complete law unto themselves.
He went on to say that I should just send in everything else because – if it was true that I’d amassed evidence of everything else he needed to know – from previous workings and by ringing his ‘tame’ local HMRC man, he could work out what my pension income details were himself. And if not, he could cut a deal with his local ‘tame’ HMRC man which would put my tax return to bed.
I don’t for a moment think he’d be wrong in saying that – given, for example, that one of the items I have to supply every year is a bank’s statement of the interest I have gained on what I call one of my ‘current’ bank accounts (but which is in fact called something else that I cannot currently remember) which – during the financial year 2016-2017 in this case – came to less than £1!
Upon hearing this glad news, on a whim I suddenly decided to jump into my car and drive 34 miles into the countryside in order to drop my documentation off at my accountant’s office in person.
Which I duly did.
Yippee! That my income tax return done and dusted for … er … another twelve months.
As it happens, there was another ‘pleasant’ item that emerged earlier this week. I had received a missive from another bank I had an account with informing me that, if I didn’t contact them by 20th January, my account with them would be discontinued for being ‘dormant’.
I therefore waddled down to my local branch and closed my account – coming out into the street daylight again some £224 in cash better off.
I don’t know what the country’s supposed doom and gloom about Brexit and the economy is coming from. From where I’m sitting, life is a piece of cake!