In case you've never seen him before, here is Hector the Tax Inspector, the image of HM Revenue and Customs.
Although I think Hector has never uttered it, he is permanently associated in my mind with a catch-phrase from earlier tax-self-assessment ads, "Tax doesn't have to be taxing"...
So... Why am I introducing you to Hector? This afternoon, I broke the procrastinator's habit of a lifetime and completed and submitted electronically my 2013/2014* tax return**, over six months before the due date (31 January 2015). Thanks to several midnight dramas while I was in Australia at Christmas, Hector tellls me I'm due a refund, having paid too much tax in advance via my tax code***.
What happened at Christmas? You may remember that I rent out my flat (we didn't sell it when we bought this house 11 years ago). Well, I don't think I ever told you about being 13,000 miles away and having to replace the boiler when it broke just before Christmas. Nor do I think I told you about being woken up at 3am Australian time on Christmas Day (!) by a phone call from the tenant downstairs, when water was cascading through her bathroom ceiling four days after the new boiler was installed and frantically trying to get hold of the rental agents on Christmas Eve UK time. (Thank God I had their mobile numbers.)
Anyway, I knew that the costs would have a knock on effect on this year's tax and had been eagerly collecting the relevant paperwork****. For once, I wanted to get my tax returned filed as soon as possible. This afternoon, with DH out of the house and the Wimbledon final on the telly, I sat down to do the necessary.... And got a pleasant surprise. Just between you and I, it never occured to me that I might be due a
refund for the last tax year - shocking, I know for an ex-tax
professional - but because I pay estimated-in-advance-tax on my rental income via my tax code, I was hoping it would increase for this year
and, with it, my monthly take-home pay*****.
The question now is what to do with the refund. While, it's not an earth-shattering amount - several hundred Pounds not several thousand - I don't want to fritter it away. Since I spent a large proportion of my "F-You Boss" money on rebuilding the kitchen, I think I'll put the refund into my cash ISA to boost that up.
* The British tax year runs April to March.
** Not everyone in the UK has to file a tax return. If you're a basic rate tax payer and only have employment income, chances are you will never have to file one. You'll pay all your tax via the PAYE system (pay-as-you-earn).
*** Every UK employee has a tax code, which tells their employer how much of their salary should be tax free. For most people, it is their tax-free personal allowance (currently £10,000 per annum), but if you fill out a tax return, you can elect to pay any tax owed via your tax code. Additionally, since our tax system requires payments-on-account if you've got rental income or self-employment income above a certain level, if you're also an employee then you can opt to pay that via your tax code, which is what I do.
**** My P60 arrived promptly in April, but my P11D (benefits in kind
statement) seemed to take forever and only arrived on Wednesday. (The
deadline for issuing them to employees was today.) A P60 is the equivalent of an Australian "Group Certificate" or an American W2.
***** I am still expecting that to happen, but only by £10-£20/month because
the 2014/2015 tax year estimate will be based on this latest tax