Tuesday, 4 August 2009

How complicated can a 4-page form be?

I visited another firm of accountants yesterday and during the meeting, we got to talking about tax returns. Sad isn't it.

We can remember the time when the shortest tax return was 10 pages long.

Now the shortest tax returns are 4 pages long.


Hang on a sec.

The guidance notes got longer when the return got shorter.

The 4-page return contains exactly the same information as the 10-page one. It's just that you have to add bits together to get the figures to go in the boxes on the 4-page form.

This is where it starts getting complicated. What figures should go in which box?...

I'm one of those people who thinks the UK's tax system is in serious need of simplification. Surely a form that has to be filled in every year shouldn't need a thick wad of guidance notes to fill it in.

And it's really scary that nobody in the winning team on University Challenge a couple of years ago could work out a tax credit claim correctly. If those bright sparks can't do it, what hope do the rest of us have? And that includes the staff at HM Revenue.

But until Mr Darling and co do make the form simpler, remember there are lots of friendly accountants out there who have done so many tax returns that we talk about them over coffee - and we're here to help YOU.

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