Following on from my recent poll, these are the three that worry people the most:

1) Not dealing with past years
2) Hidden costs
3) Dealing with HMRC

These are all areas that a professional can help you with:

Not dealing with past years
We have had clients who have ranged from 2 – 6 years behind. Getting them up to date so that they know the position and don’t have to worry about it. With the new penalties that HMRC introduced on 1st April 2009 it is important to get up to date as soon as possible.
In several cases people have found that they have unclaimed tax reliefs, or tax had been incorrectly paid, resulting in a refund (for one client this was over £3,000)

Hidden costs
This was one of the reasons I decided on a fixed fee basis for our business, so that people know exactly how much the service will cost and can budget for it, rather than getting a nasty shock at the end of the year. I also decided to put the prices on our website so that people can choose whichever package suits their needs.

Dealing with HMRC
When you engage a professional they will act on your behalf and deal with communications between HMRC and you, reducing the worry about receiving letters from them. HMRC have several standard letters they send out that are straightforward to a professional, but if you haven’t seen them before they cause worry as you wonder what has happened.

In the poll, no-one voted for getting a fine as a source of worry. Interestingly I ran a promotion at the end of last year showing how an average taxpayer with a £1,000 tax bill would actually cost them more in penalties, fines and interest if they ignored their tax return for a year than if they used our services!

One point people sometimes forget is that, for the self employed, using a professional is a business expense and qualifies for tax relief, making the cost even more affordable.