Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
It’s that time of the year. It’s always that time of year. Time to get your self assessment tax returns completed and, even more importantly, get your tax bill paid. If you miss the deadline, there are no reasons, only an excuse.
Getting hung over from Chinese New Year is not going to cut any ice with the Mandarins of HMRC. Seeing in the Year of the Rooster, on 28 January, may give you 72 hours to recover, but there’s no way that will illicit any mercy from the Chancellor’s stern and stubborn tax ninjas.
This year, like every other year, is the Year of the Excuse. No matter how many lucky lanterns you release, miss the end of January deadline for making your self assessment tax return and you’ll find reasons to be cheerless; one, two, three.
One: Your costs just went up by £100. Miss the deadline and you’ll get a penalty slapped on to your bill.
Two: You’ll still have to pay your tax, and now you’re stressed out and facing more penalties and interest if you still don’t cough up the cash.
Three: HMRC won’t say it’s so, but if you’ve been flagged for flagrantly failing to finalise your forms, don’t be surprised if you’re among the lucky few who find out that ‘investigation’ is a four letter word.
Miss 31 January, and you’ll be holed below the waterline faster than you can say “I was all at sea with my administrative planning.”
One hedonistic tax payer had a life that revolved around endless parties on their yacht, and didn’t make time to fill out forms and tax returns. They should however have made time for basic fire safety. Nothing ruins your day like a blazing inferno five miles off Cap Ferrat. That was what this tardy tax payer claimed was their reason for failing to file last January.
The yacht, probably not called Lucky Lady, caught fire after a flambé went wrong in the galley. The fire made a rapid spread to the engine room and soon ignited the ocean-going fuel tanks. The blast ripped a hole in the hull, which inevitably led to a Titanic moment of panic amidships. Even though all hands were able to make it to the jet skis, the stricken vessel went all automatic and issued its own orders to “dive, dive dive”.
Burnt, blown up, and bottomed out in the Mediterranean. That’s a pretty comprehensive way to lose your tax return.
Less glamourously, but no less inventively, a young lady claimed she was driving on her way to file her return, when she changed gear, only to put her hand on the gear stick where an unseasonal wasp had alighted moments before. The irate invertebrate startled her with a sting and she recoiled in surprise, only to direct her car into a tree, activating the airbags, which blew her tax return into the road, only for the pages to be lost in the suburban hinterland.
The high incidence of opportunities to file online, and the low incidence of wasps in January, coupled with the lack of a conviction for driving without due care and attention, led HMRC to reward this lucky lady with a £100 fine. Still, at least she didn’t drown, didn’t get three points on her licence, and didn’t lose her no claims bonus.
A recent BBC report highlighted domestic discrepancies as lame excuses for failing to fall in line with filing deadlines. In one unlikely ménage à trois, a cuckold husband said his wife had left him, and run off with their accountant; while another claimed his more faithful partner, who normally filed his returns had been struck down with a headache, that lasted ten days.
We’re accountants, not Relate, but it strikes us that if your partner has a headache for ten days, it’s not the tax that’s the problem.
We can’t guarantee your yacht won’t hit the rocks, nor your marriage for that matter, but Springfords will steer a safe course for you and make sure your tax return gets tied up dockside in time for the end of January as long as you have given us the information we need in time. If you’ve not already made sure you’re ship shape and Bristol fashion, may we suggest it really is time to get all hands on deck – if not for this year, then certainly for next.