According to the delightful Moira Stewart: tax doesn’t need to be taxing. The sad truth is that most of us find it is.
However if you are careful and organised, and if your financial affairs are not complicated, it is still perfectly possible to deal with your own taxes. This section is designed as a step-by-step guide to doing it yourself.
The danger with DIY tax lies in what Donald Rumsfeld called the unknown unknowns – the things that you don’t realise you don’t know about. I have a mate who is a surgeon and who assures me that in a few days he could teach almost anyone to remove an appendix. But what takes years is to teach a trainee surgeon to recognise when something is going wrong and to know what to do to put it right. Fortunately dealing with your own tax affairs is not usually as urgently life threatening as DIY surgery. If you begin to feel out of your depth in the middle of filling in your tax return you can usually afford to wait a week or two while you take advice.
DIY tax doesn’t mean taking all your papers along to the tax office just before the tax return deadline and sitting down with a guy on the Revenue enquiry desk while he helps you fill in your tax form. Yes, he’ll probably do it for you, but he probably won’t have the expertise or understanding of your business to make sure you claim for everything to which you are entitled, and he certainly won’t have the time to do a careful job or any interest in giving you advice on reducing your tax bills.
The other pages in this section are:
Tax returns & payments