Step by step guide to completing a tax return

It’s a tax return, Jim, but not as we know it… We’ve played around with the quote often misattributed to Star Trek* for a very good reason: to prove that when it comes to filling in a tax return there’s a better way than, well, filling in a tax return. Here’s how it works…

Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have said that the only two things we could be certain of in life were death and taxes. But if taxes are a certainty, then doesn’t it follow that tax returns are a certainty too?

Not necessarily. There could be another way – and the man in our picture, enjoying time with his children, has taken it. He’s got someone else to look after the tax return for him.

And that means there are only three steps he needs to have taken:

  1. Don’t do it yourself
  2. Pick a qualified professional instead
  3. Be honest, and share all your financial information

Why should you shun the task yourself and have someone else do it? Well, that’s where we go back to Franklin’s other certainty. You’re not going to live for ever, and you’re a mug if you think you have lots of time left. You haven’t.

Because time’s not only precious but also finite, wouldn’t it be far better to spend it enriching lives rather than with dry and dusty paperwork? Scrooge certainly discovered that in the Dickens story A Christmas Carol.

It doesn’t matter whose life you enrich. It could be yours directly, or it could be your children’s or your grandchildren’s, the elderly neighbour over the road, or the community group you would like to help to run.

Look at it another way. If your car breaks down, or you have a tooth that needs filling, or the central heating boiler gives up the ghost, do you attempt to fix them yourself? Probably not, because doing so isn’t within your area of expertise. And by the same token, do you understand how to fill in a tax form? (Sit down at the back, all those finance professionals).

Life is for living
Spend as little time as you can on anything that doesn’t add value to your life. And be aware here that ‘being necessary’ doesn’t always mean ‘adding value’. In fact, they can be exact opposites. No-one needs to walk the dog in the park, but it enriches your life and the dog’s. Everyone needs to eat, but these days no-one needs to trail around a supermarket if they don’t want to; online shopping has lifted that burden.

In every activity, ask yourself if you’re adding value to your life with something worthwhile. It’s a near racing certainty that filling in a tax return doesn’t fall into that bracket.

And if you needed any more convincing, ask yourself if completing a tax return would be followed by that simple phrase: “Well, that’s four hours of my life I’ll never get back.” It would? Employ a professional. They’ll see to it that the form is filled in and filed correctly, giving you time to stop being quite so busy, and remember that life is for living, and there’s no better time to start than now. Benjamin Franklin probably said something of the sort, in amongst his hundreds of other bon mots. Are you convinced? Good.

* The line ‘it’s life Jim, but not as we know it’ was never used in Star Trek, but was part of a song about the TV programme called Star Trekkin’, written by Grahame Lister and Rory Kehoe.