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This review is from: Tax Handbook 2012/13 (Paperback)
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One of the things I learnt from this book is that one in three of us taxpayers has to complete a Tax Return each year. If we want to submit our Return on paper and have HMRC calculate what we owe, we have to make sure it reaches them by the end of October. It's later if you are happy to submit on-line (and HMRC's interactive form will calculate the tax due as you go), but must be done by 31st December if you want what you owe (providing it is no more than £2000) to be deducted from your next year's earnings. But in any case the Return has to be made and any tax owing paid (if not to be deducted next tax year) by 31st January. There is a fine for not doing, which increases sharply if you let it go on for several months, but there are a few reasons acceptable to HMRC for not filing on time, and many that are not. All this and much more is clearly set out in this excellent book.
And not just Income Tax. Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, Excise Duty for Motor Vehicles, the tax on various forms of savings and investments, the all-important allowances and areas of tax exemption within all these taxes, and much more are all comprehensively detailed.
Although I already had some knowledge of each of the main forms of tax that touch most of us, I expected reading this book to be a chore. It wasn't. Admittedly, it would be harder work for those not already familiar with at least some of the terminology, but with perseverance any reasonably literate and numerate person should be able to understand all that is set out here. One of the better pieces of advice, of course, is that if you feel out of your depth you should pay a professional to prepare your Tax Return for you. The book goes on to tell you how much you might expect to pay, that if your income is low you may qualify for free help, and where to access that help (TaxAid). HMRC's own Website can be helpful too, and these days you will be treated humanely if you drop-in to your local tax office with a question. Or you can telephone, though it can take a long time to reach a real person. Even if you use a professional, the overview of the tax system this book provides, and how you might legally minimise the tax you pay, will still be invaluable.
So, five stars! Most of us could think of books that tell a more engrossing story, provide more laughs, or both, but what this book sets out to do it does very well. This edition has been fully revised for the current tax year, leaving no obvious breaks or joins, so full marks for that too.