Personal finance: Sites that make filing your return less taxing

internet investor

Only seven days to go before the deadline so now would be a good time to get serious about your tax return if you have not already done so.

To save yourself paying the tax man any more than you really have to, you should make sure of three things by this time next week: that your tax return is filed; that your tax liability for 1996/97 is paid in full and that your first payment on account for 1997/98 is paid. The trick, I am told, is to stop thinking of it as "your" money.

If you have been putting off and putting off and putting off tackling your return because of its complexity, you may take some consolation from being in the company of one of the greatest minds of all time. Even Albert Einstein claimed: "The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax!" But Einstein didn't have the benefit of the web for assistance.

My first port of call was the Chartered Institute of Taxation's website. The institute has over 10,000 members who are all qualified tax practitioners.

The site explains self-assessment in detail and has regularly updated tax tips. For those suffering severe sense of humour failure over self- assessment, the institute's website may provide a small lift with its collection of jokes and quotations about tax.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants also has a website which includes a geographical directory of members to help you find an accountant near you.

Elsewhere on the web you will find Tax Fix, set up specifically to help people with their self-assessment forms. Tax Fix is one of a handful of organisations to gain Inland Revenue approval to lodge clients' tax returns electronically and get acceptance - or queries - within 48 hours.

This promised response time has become more of a factor now than it might have been a couple of months ago!

The Inland Revenue does have its own explanatory site to assist you, hosted by Hector the friendly taxman, an oxymoron memorably described as a moonlighting Home Pride flour grader with a Hitler moustache.

However, it could be well worth your while checking out the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on Hector's site to make sure that you are not making any of the common mistakes which are highlighted.

Remember, if you send your tax return in but it is wrong and is returned to you, you need to make the correction and get the form back to the Inland Revenue by the deadline or face the automatic fine. Better to get it right first time.

Of course, you are not required to use the services of an accountant or a tax adviser to tackle your tax return. If you are feeling up to it yourself there are still plenty of ways in which you make your own life easier.

There are a number of software programmes which can help you fill in your return and work out what you need to pay.

You can order TaxCalc from Which Software and Intuit's QuickTax add- on through the web but if you feel the urge to buckle down and get on with the job straight away you could immediately download SmartTax from the web, paying with your credit card.

In the future, paying your tax is likely to involve downloading a form from the Inland Revenue website, filling it in on screen, attaching a digital signature and e-mailing it back to the taxman together with payment details.

In fact, this is technically possible now. The government began testing the use of digital signatures in December for people wanting to register as self-employed.

One final thought - does self assessment mean the United Kingdom will become a land of untold wealth? After all, it was John Maynard Keynes who said that: "The avoidance of taxes is the only pursuit that still carries any reward."

Chartered Institute of Taxation: www.tax.org.uk

Institute of Chartered

Accountants: www.icaew.co.uk

TaxFix: www.taxfix.co.uk

Inland Revenue:

www.open.gov.uk/inrev/sa

TaxCalc: www.idp.co.uk

QuickTax: www.intuit.co.uk

SmartTax: www.smarttax.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
This year's models: buyers have plenty of options as they try to get the money together to drive away from the dealer in a new car

Car finance options: Best way to buy a 65 plate

Sales could find another gear as the '65' registration hits the forecourts next week. Rob Griffin looks at the finance options
In too deep? Travel cover is among the benefits offered by packaged bank accounts

Claims firms blamed as complaints soar over packaged bank accounts

Many customers complained they were switched to the accounts without their knowledge

Finger on the interest rate trigger: the Bank of England

The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums

Meanwhile, high-street lenders continue to cherry-pick and be more competitive on larger loans

China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'

The market plummeted this week, losing all the gains made for the year

Which? warns sports fans about Rugby World Cup ticket scams

GetSporting.com offers deals that may be too good to be true

Could it be the time to focus on Japan? Some believe the country has no choice but to boost consumption and the economy will get back on track

Investors told to travel the world in the search for higher returns

Assets have risen in value across the board and volatility isn't going away. Rob Griffin asks where we should put our cash
As rising house prices push up demand for renting, so tenants are having to dig deeper than ever

Starter home initiative is urgently needed as rents go through the roof

Rents in England and Wales rose by 1.9 per cent in July to an average of £804

Peer-to-peer lending rates put Nisas to shame

The returns from P2P providers look more attractive than ever

Questions of Cash: Log-in problems turned eDreams booking into one-way ticket to nowhere

The company failed to provide our reader's flight ticket - or a refund

Hot property: business has been booming in estate agents this month, even though it’s the height of the summer holiday season

Heat rises for mortgage deals as UK homeowners sense a rate hike coming

The housing market should go quiet in August but instead people have been acting like cheap loans won't last. Do we really have to rush, asks Simon Read
Phones have now overtaken personal computers as the most used way of accessing the internet

Who you gonna call? The Complaints Busters

Unhappy customers have been given their own Ombudsman to help fight for them.

Undergraduates are being tempted with freebies by banks

Students should give freebies a wide berth and focus instead on cheap borrowing

An interest-free loan far outweighs the value of any of the bank's incentives

The Spanish carrier changed a reader's flight from Madrid – to a time before she was due to land

Questions of Cash: 'A connecting Vueling flight was cancelled and all my travel costs were left hanging in the air'

Our reader encountered problems when flying from London to Ibiza in May to take part in a charity ride

Complacency about rising rates could prove to be costly

Interest rates stay at 0.5% for now - but don't wait to get a better deal on your savings and mortgage

The years of ultra-low rates are coming to an end

The elderly are being targeted by fraudsters with postal scams such as fake prize draws

Fraudsters are bombarding older people with dangerous pension scams: here we reveal the warning signs

Many people are being repeatedly targeted by crooked schemes

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

    £16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

    SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones