The tax is done for another year. This must be how sheep feel on the way back from the shearing house. Fleeced.
I didn't leave it to the very last day but it was close. There have been noises from the tax office about all we terrible people who wait until the last possible moment, as if that's not entirely their own fault.
Firstly, they will charge a penalty plus interest if I pay late. There is nothing at all in it for me if I pay early.
Secondly, and this is the big one, they also want next year's tax this year. They call it 'tax on account' and while it is possible for me to reduce those payments on account, it has to be done carefully.
Reduce them too much and I'd get fined. Yes, really, they would fine me for not paying tax I don't actually owe yet. If I leave them too high, then I'm seriously out of pocket at least until the next tax return.
So I need to make a reliable projection of what I'm likely to earn in the next tax year, which ends in April. If I did this in July I'd have to project the likely income for ten months. If I do it at the end of January I only have to guess what I might make in February and March. If it wasn't for tax-on-account I'd be able to fill out the form on 6th April every year. The money still wouldn't be due until the following January but the form would be done. Under the current rules, only an idiot would do that.
As it is, I will make absolutely bugger all in the next two months. Even if I get a contract tomorrow, it can't be completed, reported, billed and paid before April. Well - it won't be, put it that way, or I'd get fined for not paying tax I don't owe on income I haven't had yet.
Books can't give me a surprise boost. Even if they suddenly sell like hot cakes I won't see a return for three months. Nothing significant will come from there before April either. If that did happen I would simply buy in stock before April to make that projected tax liability match what I said it was.
Apparently some tens of thousands of small businesses will be filing returns on the very last day. I am not surprised. There is no benefit in completing the form early and getting that future-tax liability wrong can be expensive. If you earn more than you said you would, then rather than just saying 'thanks' for the extra tax, the taxman will treat you as a criminal. So you either stop bothering or you buy in stock you don't really need to make the taxman's figures add up.
I'm still looking for a job. Today I saw a microbiology job, really it's a technician job but it's easy, pays well enough and is close. It's also a one-year contract which is ideal. When you're over fifty, nobody wants you because you're just getting into the job and it's retirement time. I can't blame them - if you're going to the trouble of training someone, then someone who will stay for 20 years is a better investment than someone who will only have 10 left in them.
This, plus all the pension stuff, doesn't apply on a short contract. So I'm not at a disadvantage compared to a younger applicant. I also need no training, in fact I've been training people to do the same kind of job.
I don't want another career so that's also useful. I just need to ride out the recession until everyone else has made enough money to afford my expensive services again. If I could, I'd sleep through it.
There's still the submissions-editor job. Last I heard, they had whittled it down to the last few candidates and as I haven't had the 'get lost' letter yet, there is still hope. That's all online, so I can do that as well.
None of this will prevent me having to fill out another form next year. Even the small amount the books make will have to be accounted for, the editor job counts as freelance and if I do get a contract I'll do it at night and at weekends. I'm also looking for writing work, so if you know anyone who wants some advertising copy, I am entirely without morals or scruples and will spin your product to the stars. Especially if it's something the Righteous disapprove of.
There is, nonetheless, one big attraction in going back to being an employee rather than trying to build a business..
They don't have to pay tax in advance.