Sunday 31 January 2010


Controversially unemployed newsreader and owner of the stiffest upper lip in Britain, Moira Stewart is the current face of tax. She makes it seem so easy perched up there in her greenish ivory tower, but really she's scared. So scared in fact that she hides in the cupboard under the stairs praying that her tax return will do itself.

I've done my tax return now, but why do I always leave it to the last minute?

For those of you with proper jobs who never need to worry about calculating your own tax contributions, every April at the beginning of the new financial year those of us with other fiscal arrangements get a letter reminding us to file a tax return. I then put this letter to one side for safekeeping and promptly lose it. It surfaces sporadically, usually whenever I'm searching for something else, but I never quite have the time, or more crucially, the inclination to do it.

If the accused who defends himself in court has a fool for a client, then is the actor who can't afford an accountant equally foolish? Possibly. I'm registered as self-employed, because I'm an actor and that is certainly scant qualification for running a business. Despite this I recommend that anyone in this industry still register themselves as self-employed.

The first year they will send you the most impenetrable all-purpose form full of questions about your property ownership on the Isle of Man, and the cost of cleaning your ecumenical dog collars. The best way to weather that storm is to get an accountant to do the first year's tax return for you. Equity has a list of those that specialise in services relevent to actors. When I first looked in 2007, I was quoted prices ranging from £150 to £650. No prizes for guessing which I went for. They will know which sections do not apply to you and will provide you with a copy from which you can work out each subsequent year. Then you're on your own.

Since then I have been determined to file my tax return myself and although it's still not something that comes naturally, it's mostly a matter of working out where to put the zeroes.

Today is the deadline for the tax year 2008-09 so if you haven't already, submit your tax return.


Tanya Jones said...

John sidestepped the tricky tax return when he was self-employed by getting me to do it, because I work in a financial data company. I only did it because it was marginally less stressful than waiting for him to do it.

Dave said...

See you next January...