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Simple tax returns

Few of my readers may remember the little adventure I had with my UK tax return about a year ago. In that post, I mentioned that the self-assessment process for filing tax returns in Britain is easy and even expressed anticipation towards trying it on my own.

Well, Q.E.D.

It took a bit over two and a half hours to do everything that I needed, and most of that time can be explained away by me being somewhat tentative on my first try.

I more or less needed just three numbers, found on two forms that were sent to me at the end of the tax year in April: My gross earnings, total taxes withheld and the combined value of any taxable benefits. At the HMRC website, I then needed to provide my personal information, answer a couple of dozen Yes/No questions about what types of income I did or did not have during the year and what kinds of “reliefs” I expected to claim. After that, it was plugging the aforementioned numbers into a form, proceeding to happily review the amount of money I’m owed back, and clicking the Submit button.

Ok, it was a little bit more involved than that, primarily because as a not ordinarily resident I can exclude a portion of my salary earned while on business outside of the UK from the tax bill. Figuring out that one number took the lion’s share of the time spent on the return. But overall, the process approximated the idea of doing your taxes on the back of a napkin as close as anything else that I know.

Next year, it should take 15 minutes.

Posted in Expat Archive