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Pen and ink is so last year - Financial Times

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The following abstract, is from an article written by Elaine Moore that was published in the weekend edition of the Financial Times on the 19th of January 2008. A big thank you to Elaine Moore and Matthew Vincent who is the new editor of FT Money.

Last year 3m people filled in their self-assessment tax form online. According to the Revenue, many more are expected to do so this year. So it looks as if the writing is on the wall for any remaining Luddites still stuck ticking boxes in black ink.

The deadline for payment of all tax owed, and for sending in completed tax returns for the 2006-07 tax year, is January 31.

But for the next tax year everything changes. Anyone filing a paper return for the 2007-08 year will have to send it in by October 31. Those who choose to file online will have until January 31 2009.

Online filing is convenient for HMRC because it saves it time spent entering data and logging returns sent by post. But there are a number of reasons why it’s good for you too.

“HMRC’s site has improved substantially over the years,” says John Whiting, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “The design of the site means that if you click on certain boxes you will automatically be taken to the next relevant page.”

A handy feature of the site is that partially-filled forms can be saved and returned to later on if required. But the biggest incentive of filing online is that the site automatically calculates the tax you owe. There is also an automatic acknowledgement for all online forms, which may bring peace of mind if HMRC staff decide to strike on January 31 over job cuts.

The site covers most situations, but not all, according to Whiting. Those with large capital gains may have difficulty. However, a tool called timetotrade (www.timetotrade.co.uk) can help. It can give investors a view of their collective capital gains tax position in order to help them complete tax forms.

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