Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tax Returns! Booo!

For those of you in the UK, October 31st is the deadline for paper tax returns (you've got until January for on-line returns). This year, I decided to get it done early and just finished today.

 My first thought was that I'm quite progressive and I don't mind paying my taxes, but it's frustrating to think that at number of my competitors abroad (and even in the UK) may not have to pay the same amount of tax that I do. For example, when I was living in Taiwan, I was paying something like 8% if I remember rightly.

I think the main problem is that the world is globalized, but I still want to live in the UK. That means I have to pay UK taxes, which are higher than some countries (and lower than others). I appreciate the good infrastructure and everything else in the UK, so I'm happy to contribute towards it. What if I was still in Taiwan, paying 8%, and after 10 years, I got sick and came back to the UK for treatment. I would then basically be getting the great quality of health care from the UK but without paying for it.

 My second thought is that I really like the hmrc.gov.uk website. The interface is really simple and clean, and I've never had any issues with it. It seems to work fine with Chrome, Firefox and IE. In both Taiwan and mainland China, I used to have to spend a week going backwards and forwards to the relevant offices to pay, and the UK system is great by comparison.

 Finally, I think there's something psychological about filing in a tax return. As a translator I'm getting the money from my clients directly, and I see it in my bank account. It sits there and somehow it's harder to think of it as not belonging to me. Taxes taken out of payment at source seem a lot easier to take.

Anyway, don't forget your tax returns if you're in the UK!

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