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CAMILLE BERRIMAN: A more taxing job than I remember

A personal view
A personal view

I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions as we started 2015 after failing in previous years to stick to anything. But now I am wondering whether I should have.

One month into the year I’ve realised I have a tendency to leave things to the last minute. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like to be late and give me a deadline and I will make it. However, expect me to avoid tedious jobs if there is more fun to be had elsewhere in the world.

A prime example of this is the self-assessment tax return saga.

Last year’s first tax return was a daunting prospect, but surprisingly simple once I sat down and got on with it.

“I’m going to submit my 2013/14 return as soon as I can in April,” I thought to myself. But April 2014 came and went and, before I knew it, the January 31 deadline was looming.

Naturally, I did not want to pay a £100 fine, so 10 days before the due date I thought I’d better get on with it. “It was easy last year – this’ll take me an hour or so,” I naively thought. Alas, this bolshie approach was about to backfire and year two was not so simple. For a start I could not locate my P60 (eventually found filed exactly where it should be) and I never unearthed my PAYE coding notice. Conceding defeat, I called the Self -Assessment helpline, but after being left on hold for 55 minutes I gave up.

Four days later, following a top-to-bottom house search, I employed a different tactic for calling the helpline: I rang 10 minutes before its official opening time. Bingo! This early bird caught the worm and within five minutes I had everything I needed to finish the job – and an impressive six days before the deadline.

Unfortunately, I then decided I wanted to double and triple check everything before hitting the submit button... This checking procedure took another five days and I finally sent it with just hours to spare.

So I now resolve to try to be a bit early for once – in all things. You might need to give me a nudge in April about that next tax return, though.