Friday, February 01, 2008

How to be a Tax Exile without leaving the country

Anyone who has to fill in a tax return will know that yesterday was the closing date for doing so, without risking a fine from HM Inland Revenue.

In our house, we both have to fill in tax returns.

Mine is simple. I earn bugger all money so for the last couple of years I have filled in the short tax return and sent it off by 30 September, thereby ensuring my friendly tax inspector works out how little tax I owe him (I earn far too little to bother employing an accountant).

Spouse on the other hand is another matter. He earns considerably more then I do and his affairs are more complex. Therefore he needs an accountant.

This year, I missed the 30 September deadline due to other pressures, but as I discovered you can now file online, I managed to get mine in a few weeks ago. (Pause for smug moment).

Spouse, who takes a seat of your pants approach to all things tax related (when he was first working he couldn't work out how to pay tax and at one time we had enough money to abscond had we so wished. Mind you, we'd never been able to come back to the country again, so it was just as well that the tax man finally caught up with him...) kept promising me he was going to sort everything his accountant needed and then forgetting about it.

It is difficult in this situation not to turn into a nagging wife, as last year on account of this laidback attitude it was muggins who had to drive to the accountants at the last minute with all the necessary info, only for some of it to be wrong which necessitated a return journey. However, as any slight mention of the TAX problem was met with gnashing of teeth on my beloved's part, I very valiantly tried to keep my gob firmly shut on the subject.

Eventually he did sit down and get it sorted, and then drove to the accountants himself (hmmm, so he was listening occasionally then), boasting that he was a week ahead of where he'd been last year. Yes, but why do we have to leave it till January in the first place????

Anyway. Nerves duly settled, I have spent the last couple of weeks trying not to mention the fact that he hasn't yet heard from his accountants. This week though, of course, it all got a bit hairy. Spouse and accountant have spoken on phone, but as per usual there are some bits of info missing, so we had a phone call early Tuesday to enquire about them. Spouse sorted that out and eventually was rewarded with tax return to check yesterday morning. Spouse being rather luddite with regards to computers, it was me downloading and printing everything off, in between sorting out the sandwiches yesterday morning. (And he wonders why I get irritated...)

Everything was tickety boo. I email accountant back to say so, he luckily has done accounts so we know how much to pay, and off I pop to pay bill before school pick up.

Only of course I forget to take my passport as security for the cheque (which is rather large) and have to go back in between school pick up and tennis lessons.

As a result of late filing online (luckily Spouse saved this year by fact of system crashing yesterday so he got an extra day's grace) we didn't have a pay slip. I found a form I thought might work from the Inland Revenue website, but wasn't quite sure. Before I withdrew obscene sum of money to pay HMG, I asked girl in Nationwide if this would be ok to use. Oh yes, she said gaily - what did it matter to her, Nationwide won't accept payments of cheques unless they're from a bank account? I duly trotted next door with obscene cheque burning huge hole in my pocket, to discover, that no, the form I had printed from the internet didn't count. I was now ten minutes late for tennis and there was a huge queue in the Nationwide, so I decided to risk taking huge cheque home with me.

Today I have tried to ring the IR to get them to send Spouse a payslip (bearing in mind that as he has his hands shoved down someone's gob for 99% of the day wasting half his life on the end of a phone waiting for some bod from the tax office to answer it isn't desperately practical), and GET THIS.... When after three attempts and half an hour of waiting I finally got through to a real live person, it transpires that I am not security cleared to get my husband a payslip. Well I never. And there was me imagining that given the cock up with the child benefit info going missing which means any tom dick and harry probably now has access to my bank accounts, and following the revelation this week that if you are rich, famous or an MP you can't file your return online because it's not secure enough, that security wasn't a really high priority at the IR.

Apparently it is. But only if you want to know something pertaining to your partner. I imagine if I hacked into their mainframe and got an automated payslip sent out, they'd probably be patting me on the back.

I think a life as a tax exile might actually be in order...

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