Online Self Assessment sites – are they really any less taxing?

There are a number of Self Assessment websites that offer a simpler, easier way to enter your tax returns, but are they really that much better?

100467409smallOther than the ability to enter your information offline and a slightly more attractive interface, there seems be very little difference between HMRC’s online tax return site and their competitors.

They all seem to be reasonably straightforward, provide supporting documentation and can be completed in around 30 minutes as long as your tax returns are relatively simple. Add to that, the fact that you are able to call HMRC’s Self Assessment helpline seven days a week between 08:00 and 20:00 to get advice from the proverbial horse’s mouth, and the added worry of putting your personal details onto yet another website and it looks like you might as well just sign in to HMRCs Self Assessment page and complete it there.

With the wide range of websites and software packages there are plenty of options for those who just need a quick and easy way to submit a basic Self Assessment tax return. The real problem with online Self Assessment lies in submitting more complicated returns. If your situation is particularly unusual or if you have many different income streams or are running an SME, the odds are good that you will need to seek professional advice in order to avoid being penalised or overcharged.

There is a very real danger of being accused of trying to mislead HMRC and the penalty can be severe. You could be required to pay up to an additional 70% in tax owing or up to 100% if they decide that you have attempted to conceal your wrongdoing. Even if it is decided that you have merely been careless in your application you could still pay up to 30% extra.

Using a qualified accountant will not only help you avoid the possibility of receiving a catastrophic bill from HMRC, but will save you time and money. By using an accountant or a firm like 1stContact Accounting you can make sure that you get the right advice first time and get your return accurately checked. We can even get the whole thing taken care of for you, and save you the hassle of crunching all those numbers yourself.

Our process is simple, quick and very competitively priced. We quote in advance of any work so that you don’t get any unwelcome surprises once your tax return is done. We lodge all our returns electronically as it is quicker and more secure.

The bottom line

The decision to do your tax return online or engage an accountant to get it done for you is a personal one. It boils down to your comfort with numbers and general level of tax knowledge. If you are working for yourself and have few investments, you could save money by completing your tax return online via HMRC’s website or through the many different software packages and websites available.

Those with more complicated needs, like business income and rental property, will likely find it much more rewarding to look to a professional for assistance. Complicated tax returns carry risk and investing in an accountant’s expertise could save you a packet in the long term.

Contact 1stContact Accounting for advice on how to make your tax returns work in your favour.

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