It is with a huge sense of achievement, and not a little relief, that I can report that I may have completed my self-assessed income tax return for 2012/2013 without, as happened last year, having to pay a £100 for late filing.
My fundamental problems with tax returns are two-fold: firstly, my meagre income appears – in the great scheme of the universe – to be so insignificant a matter that I cannot raise any sense of urgency in dealing with it; and secondly, with the best will in the world, my administrative and organisational skills are minimal. Which is why such apparently trivial matters as pulling together the necessary to complete a tax return require a seemingly superhuman effort on my part.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning I managed to collect certificates of interest received on two bank accounts from my local branch of Santander and speed off down the M3 to Camberley in driving rain to visit my accountant. These vital items – showing tax to be paid of 24p and 81p respectively – were the final two records needed to complete my return.
When I arrived my accountant, who specialises in personal taxation, was – as usual at this time of year – snowed under with work. He cheerfully admitted that, once 31st January had passed, his practice went very quiet indeed, which was why he was now booked for a fortnight’s skiing holiday in February.
My original intention had been to do no more than chuck him my file of records and jump back in my car, leaving him to deal with my affairs at his leisure, but he immediately cleared his desk and suggested he might as well deal with my return on the spot.
Ten minutes later, him having taken my offerings and – occasionally referring to my file of previous years as he perused my new figures – scribbled away on a pad of accounting paper, it was all over.
Thereafter we chatted away about personal things for a minute or two and then I was let go. As he shook my hand and saw me on my way, he smiled and said “I must congratulate you. That’s the first time ever that you’ve delivered everything required without an omission or cock-up!”
And that was it for another year. Simples, this income tax game …