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UK taxpayers compare the stress of filing self-assessment return with undergoing medical and dental surgery

UK taxpayers compare the stress of filing self-assessment return with undergoing medical and dental surgery
  • HMRC received over £70,000,000 in late fees alone from people who missed the self-assessment deadline for 2017/18 in 2019
  • A survey commissioned by TaxScouts and conducted by YouGov revealed 38 per cent of taxpayers are too worried they’d make a mistake and the consequences from it when filing their returns
  • Main stress comparisons include: undergoing dental and medical procedures (16.3 per cent), applications for everything from mortgages to passports (15.2 per cent), sitting exams (12.2 per cent), and even terrible commutes (5.8 per cent)

UK taxpayers who have previously submitted a self assessment tax return have compared dealing with HMRC with unpleasant ordeals such as having a severe medical issue or undergoing dental surgery. Findings revealed in a survey by global public opinion company YouGov and commissioned by TaxScouts, also show that one of the biggest drivers of stress is people worrying about making a mistake and what would happen if they did (38 per cent).

TaxScouts takes the stress out of preparing and submitting a self-assessment tax return. In a few clicks customers provide enough information for a certified TaxScouts accountant to quickly and correctly file your return, for a flat rate of £119.

Over 700,000 customers missed the deadline to file their tax returns in 2019, incurring an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time. At a minimum, being fined more than £70,000,000 total in late fees by HMRC. This chaotic eleventh-hour scenario is a cause of stress for a lot of people who need to file a return but just don’t know where to start.

Mart Abramov, Co-Founder and CEO of TaxScouts, commented: “Getting your taxes done is a common source of worry for many and it shouldn’t be. Taxpayers are not getting the level of service they need with their personal taxes from the government. The support from HMRC is clearly insufficient. The entire industry of personal tax preparation is basically about translating the government’s tax-speak to human language and offering support. That’s about half the job we do at TaxScouts.”

When asked to compare the stress of filing a tax return with anything that came to mind, out of the 673 respondents who provided an answer, these were the most popular:

  • Dental or medical procedure, in some cases compared to “open-heart surgery” or “root canal treatment without anaesthetic” – 16.3 per cent
  • Completing applications for passports, mortgages, bank loans and others – 15.2 per cent
  • Taking an exam, in once case compared to “taking an exam for a subject I had not had classes for” – 12.2 per cent
  • Bad commutes, including “driving on the motorway in heavy rain” and “missing a flight or train” – 5.8 per cent
  • Others compared it to moving home (3.3 per cent) and working (4.8 per cent)

Lack of information and guidance from HMRC is a big cause of concern for taxpayers. Of those who said they found something in particular stressful when filing their self assessment tax return, 38 per cent of respondents said the number one reason for stress is being too worried they’d make a mistake and the consequences from it. This concern was particularly common amongst the self-employed at 33 per cent and increased to 44 per cent for anyone who received a warning letter from HMRC.

19 per cent of respondents were stressed because it wasn’t clear if they were doing the right thing, while 9 per cent could not understand the jargon or language being used, and another 9 per cent found it too complicated to do themselves.

Abramov added: “In theory, people should not need help doing their taxes, but the current system is such an intimidating maze that it’s no wonder that people seek help from friends and family, accountants and companies like TaxScouts. It’s why we exist – to take the stress away from taxpayers by just doing their returns for them, quickly and affordably.”

A separate survey conducted by TaxScouts with its users showed that 66 per cent of their clients don’t mind paying their taxes, but they don’t like the process of doing them with HMRC. According to the same research, 37 per cent of people using TaxScouts said that fear of making a mistake and not knowing what to do is what made them stressed, and 44 per cent said that the most important thing when doing their returns was doing it correctly.

TaxScouts user, Daniel Spencer a photographer from London, commented “Tax returns for me aren’t something you forget easily, you stumble through the jargon and then think about what you’ve done wrong until the next one. But I don’t any more with TaxScouts.”

The YouGov and TaxScouts survey was conducted nationwide between 9 and 11 October with 1,313 adults who ever had to submit a self assessment return.

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