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New online accounts system could save contractors’ skins

If tax returns are the absolute bane of your existence as a contractor, here’s some welcome news: the Government may be coming to your rescue for a change!

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs is planning to launch a new ‘online accounts’ system, which will provide a route for taxpayers to provide the taxman with just the information it needs without the requirement of making a full tax return. The new system will have some £200 million invested in it with the hopes that it will recover those costs – and generate much more income for HMRC to boot – and hopes are high that it will actually help people get their self-assessment tax returns in without as much problem.

Of course, this new system is most likely going to be taxed to its utmost thanks to new tax law changes. The child benefits scaleback alone could see an additional 500,000 Brits having to self-assess, so we’ll see where this one goes.

Still, hopes are high that the online system will enable a good number of individuals to avoid having to self-assess any more. If you ask me, this might be a big help, but I have to be honest – I don’t have high hopes. For what it’s worth, the Government tends to bollocks things up about twice as often as they make things easier; I’m sure I’m not the only one here that remembers how that new IR35 guidance last year absolutely made things abysmally bad for contractors – and that’s something the freelancing community is still recovering from!

So no, I don’t have a particularly large amount of faith in HMRC, the Treasury, or anyone who’s ever set foot in Downing Street, no matter the jaunty cut of their bespoke tailored suit. Can you really blame me, though? the Government has been flailing about for years now in an attempt to streamline things only to make them unaccountably worse, and I really don’t want to see it happen any more.

Sadly I doubt any of us will ever live to see the day that things straighten themselves out on their own, so we’ll just have to wait and see what new horrors the Government unleashes on us next. Who knows – the law of averages says that eventually there should be a winner eventually. I’m not holding my breath, though.

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