In today’s digital age, information is accessible to many via the web, but the validity of the data published online is always difficult to establish.  With search engines offering entries from Wikipedia and blogs set up freely and authored by anyone who is inclined to share their opinions as if they were facts, the internet really is a minefield for those searching for clear, coherent and up to date advice.

laptop frustrationHowever, it is reasonable to assume that major websites of core government organisations are up to date and free from misleading information, isn’t it?

Take the website of H M Revenue & Customs for example.  Full of guidance, help sheets and forms to download it is a useful source of information that goes some way to replace the much depleted staff numbers manning the ‘phone lines and tax offices.  But can it be relied upon?

In the next two weeks, we have the Self-assessment Tax Return filing deadline. If you were in any doubt as to whether this regime applies to you, it would be reasonable to visit www.hmrc.gov.uk and find the following as part of a list of circumstances in which a Return is necessary.

Quote “If you are an employee or a pensioner and already pay tax through a PAYE code, you can sometimes ask for tax that you owe on income, such as savings and property, to be collected through your code number. You’ll need to complete a tax return instead if the income you receive is:

  • £10,000 or more from taxed savings and investments
  • £2,500 or more from untaxed savings and investments
  • £10,000 or more from property (before deducting allowable expenses)
  • £2,500 or more from property (after deducting allowable expenses)”

Tax Return and CalculatorThe words “you’ll need to” are certainly not ambiguous, however if receiving £10,000 or more of dividends does not create a charge to tax, perhaps because your employment earnings are minimal, this fact alone is not enough to require a Tax Return from you.

It is important to note that the list published by HMRC is intended as guidance, the need to file a return will depend on each taxpayer’s circumstances.  As it the taxpayer’s responsibility to notify HMRC of the need to file a Return, I am sure an “it depends” answer isn’t really what you were looking for.

Whilst the internet serves many needs, it must be used with caution when seeking advice regarding even the simplest taxation and accounting queries.  For the foreseeable future, there really is no replacement for trustworthy, personal advice from a team of trusted professionals!

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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