28 January 2010

Don't ask me what I want it for.

Well it's done… I hated every microsecond of it but thankfully it is now over for one year at least. The Tax Man has been paid.

I have a little problem you see… ok I have many little problems but one of them is that I cannot abide filling in forms, officious red tape or bureaucracy. And this can cause a little bit of a nightmare if you've turned freelance and have to do a Tax self assessment… as I have just done.

It all starts with the post. I don't in general like it. In fact unless it looks like it might be a birthday card there's a very good chance it'll never get opened if it has the misfortune of being delivered through my door. It'll join all of its little anonymous brother and sister unopened letters, which all live in a big stack on the corner of my desk. Needless to say because of my freelance status, I do from time to time get some serious mail that kind of needs to be opened… like the reminders about income tax deadlines etc.

Well as was expected I left it all right up until the last minute, opened them all, spent days trying to sort all of the letters into some logical and chronological order… then found out that my only option for getting my tax paid for the year was to do a self assessment and pay online … I'd left it too late for any other option.

Now as you can guess I'm a pretty heavy computer user (in both ways) and so having to deal with "an online form" shouldn't have been a problem right?… WRONG.

The Tax payment website needs a special password… and they have to send you that password in the mail (why I have no idea). So ok now time is very short and I have to wait for the once brilliant, but now totally bloody useless, British postal system to deliver me something without which, I can not continue in my endeavors to be a good citizen and pay my tax. Amazingly they delivered and I was able to log into the website with a couple of days to spare… that's when I really ran into trouble. 

I almost suffered complete brain failure once I was on the website and had started to fill in the stunningly long forms required. In fact I had completed just 1% of the form (there is a handy little progress bar to tell you this) when I ran into questions I didn't understand and had no answers for. I forged ahead with the intention of returning to fill the gaps later. But after moving on, I discovered that pretty much the remaining 99% of the forms fell into the same category i.e. I didn't bloody understand them. This was when I almost completely gave up and crawled under a duvet. Luckily for me, a good friend realized my tax woes after seeing a couple of my desperate facebook status updates and offered to come round and help.

He did and blasted through the forms with stunning understanding and efficiency while sat and watched Superbad, drank beer and smoked cigarettes.

Now (at least for the next year) the tax man has been held at bay… and I am once more reminded that the best thing in the world, is having friends. Did I learn anything beyond that? Did I learn how to deal with my now yearly recurring tax situation… no not really. It still scares the crap out of me. I'm certainly not going to be able to do it myself next year. So I just hope my tax buddy doesn’t drop down dead in the next year, because if he does… I’ll bloody kill him ;)

Seriously though, thanks Iain, you’re a life saver.