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First time tax return - DIY or pay accountant?

(30 Posts)
Cambiodenombre Mon 10-Nov-14 21:28:57

Short story is I need to fill out a tax return for first time for 2013-4. First problem is I don't think I have all the right paperwork I need because I didn't realise I'd have to do a tax return and therefore mislaid it (stupid I know) however I can get my hands on that if needed. I'm concerned about doing actual tax return though. Is it worth trying to do it myself or paying an accountant to do it! If so how much am I looking at?

Also what paperwork do I definitely need?

Many TIA

fuckwitteryhasform Mon 10-Nov-14 21:30:09

Watching with interest as It's my first year for tax return too and am not sure what to do either....

CountingThePennies Mon 10-Nov-14 21:35:15

You have to ring hmrc and tell them you want to do it online

They send you the activation code through the post

My account is £600.

The problem with doing it yourself is that some of the questions are quite complicated to understand and if you get it wrong and the hmrc do an inspection on you then it leads to a load of trouble

Also an accountant will be up to date about what you can claim for and what you cant.

Also if you do your own tax return you are much more likely to get an inspection that if an accountant has done it

Cambiodenombre Mon 10-Nov-14 21:39:18

Thanks. I'm all registered for online and set up, it's just worrying that I'll do it wrong. £600 is steep, way more than I'll potentially owe back. Eek.

agoodbook Mon 10-Nov-14 21:41:02

I think it depends on how complicated your affairs are. I have done my own tax return for 30 years while running a small business. You just need to take your time, and have all your figures to hand. i have in the past rung up and asked for help to clear up what i think they are asking on a particular question, and they are usually very happy to. And be honest of course!

CountingThePennies Mon 10-Nov-14 21:41:55

Ring round accountants and ask their prices.

If they are too cheap then there is probably a reason for it.

CountingThePennies Mon 10-Nov-14 21:46:41

They average were i live (North West) is around £70 an hour

A good accountant is not cheap.

However even though you have an accountant, you are still responsible for the figures he submits online to hmrc. So if they are wrong, its you in the firing line not the accountant

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 10-Nov-14 22:08:15

I agree it depends how complicated your affairs are. My affairs are complicated, but my accountants bill represents about 0.1% of my turnover.

Spindelina Tue 11-Nov-14 09:41:39

Would you be comfortable telling us why you need to do a tax return?

If you've started a business, then IMO (unless it's a very small, simple business) it's probably worth getting an accountant.

But if you've received money from a trust, or something like that, then it's really not very hard at all.

Boleh Tue 11-Nov-14 10:04:26

I second those saying it depends entirely on how complicated the return is. I live abroad and have to do one for UK income which is pretty straightforward. It did take me a while as I read through the reams and reams of detailed notes about each question - so perhaps if you are very short of time an accountant would be worthwhile even for a simple return.
I have also found HMRC very helpful at clarifying things when I call them.

Boysandme Tue 11-Nov-14 10:12:04

Personally I would always recommend an accountant unless your affairs are very very simple.

But then I am an accountant and realise that I have spent many years learning and using the many intricacies of the relevant legislation. There are a lot of complicated bits that you don't know are there unless you know, if that makes sense.

In terms of cost, depending on what the situation is my charges start at around £250+vat for the simple returns. I am a Chartered Accountant and work on my own in a 'lifestyle practice' so am often more reasonably priced. Whilst you can get cheaper, you'll struggle to get a properly qualified accountant for less.

Ask friends for recommendations or arrange a free consultation with a qualified accountant local to you. Just make sure they are properly qualified and that you are comfortable with them.

Good luck.

TheGirlFromIpanema Tue 11-Nov-14 10:18:00

Call around and ask friends & family.

I do a few returns each year for friends/acquaintances for £100 + vat.

I am perfectly qualified to do so but as an accounting technician rather than a chartered accountant my boss charges me out at mates rates for a much cheaper rate than she would do herself. We also do cheaper returns for people who have family already with us iyswim, so make sure you ask people you know!

This is for simple returns though, more complex affairs would be different smile

whattodoforthebest2 Tue 11-Nov-14 10:27:40

If you're employed, you'll need your P60. If you're self-employed, you'll need your accounts for the year. You'll also need details of any savings, investments, ISAs and interest received on them. Any other income you may have.

If you start straight away, go through the return online methodically and see if there are questions you can't answer. If you can't get help online or from their helpdesk, then think about an accountant, but IMO the return is designed to be user-friendly.

specialsubject Tue 11-Nov-14 13:35:50

the online tax return actually does work and guides you through the process.

where you may need help is working out what is allowable against tax - but that may be a tax adviser, not an accountant. Even with an accountant you still have to get all the info together.

can suggest what paperwork you need if you are happy to say what sections apply to you. e.g. self employment, property, capital gains, etc.

Cambiodenombre Tue 11-Nov-14 19:44:21

Thanks all. It's all pretty straightforward. PAYE with v small amount of share dividends and maybe some interest on savings

sleeplessbunny Tue 11-Nov-14 19:51:05

If it's just what you say then it's not too bad at all. I have always done my own, I set aside a few hours and get it done. You will need P60 from employment plus your income from shares and savings. ANything in an ISA gets ignored: don't even enter it.

Starts to get more complicated if you have overseas earnings, self employment, capital gains, that sort of thing. Although it's still quite possible if you put your mind to it. I have done all of these on my own in the past.

januarysnowdrop Tue 11-Nov-14 19:56:41

I do my own and have always found them easier than I expect. Give it a go, and then if you find it too difficult, maybe consider an accountant. Generally if I don't understand a question a quick google search will clarify things for me.

januarysnowdrop Tue 11-Nov-14 19:57:29

...forgot to mention, I did mine yesterday and it took me less than two hours.

OneHandFlapping Tue 11-Nov-14 19:58:29

Why don't you log in and start filling in the form and see how you go? You don't have to submit it.

You'll also be reducing any accountant costs - especially if you only have to pay for answers to very specific questions.

Do it soon though, because accountants will be getting very busy as the deadline approaches.

Spindelina Tue 11-Nov-14 20:50:58

OP, with all the types of income you've listed, you just need to copy the right numbers from your records into the right boxes on the tax return. If you give yourself time to sit down with the paperwork and with Google, you should be fine.

Boysandme Tue 11-Nov-14 22:42:24

To be fair, if that is all you have got then I would give it a go yourself.

I would be asking though why you have to complete a tax return, presumably as you are a higher earner? If you do not earn over £50k I would phone HMRC and ask whether they really require you to do one.

fuckwitteryhasform Wed 12-Nov-14 08:43:59

Sorry for hijack, but would the accountants / those in the know on here also advise giving it a go in my situation? I have some self employed income, deduction of expenses and associated professional costs, and rental income from two properties. The rental property rules look v complicated!

whattodoforthebest2 Wed 12-Nov-14 09:02:35

AFAIK, declaring income on property rental is only complicated by the fact that you need to deduct expenses, ie management fees, general expenses you incur, in order to arrive at your net income. There's a lot of help online. Once you've done it the first time, it'll be a lot easier to do future returns. Keep detailed records and all your calculations.

ClashCityRocker Wed 12-Nov-14 09:10:23

It can be more complicated than that whattodo - the deductibility of certain expenses for rental income is a bit of a hot potato at the minute with the scrapping of the renewals basis.

fuckwittery if you do want to give it a bash yourself, try working through the following:

www.hmrc.gov.uk/agents/toolkits/property-rental.pdf

There should be one for self employment too.

I would probably advise getting an accountant, or at least a tax advisor, more for piece of mind, at least for the first couple of years.

specialsubject Wed 12-Nov-14 10:47:32

that's roughly my situation and I do my own return. I keep a spreadsheet of property income and expenses, ditto savings accounts - I have A LOT of those so spend June and July chasing up the certificates of tax deduction.

rental property stuff isn't that complicated: deductibles include agent fees, costs of services (such as gas cert) and maintenance (but NOT improvements). You can't charge for your time but you can for your expenses.

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