Paying for someone to do my tax return (not)

Last year I decided that I’d get someone to do my tax return. I had sold some shares, and since it involved options and stock, income and capital gains, and was listed in dollars, I thought it would be worth getting it done by someone else to minimise the chance of error (and save me wasting days). And, having sent off all the info back came a beautifully completed tax return.

Since I had some time this year, and it should look like last years (ish) then I thought I’d do it by using last years as a worked example. If it proved horrible then I could always send it to the accountant again. Of course, using last years meant understanding where they got the info from. Well, the shares part turned out to be easy, though I found a fairly trivial cut and paste error that they’d made. They had put in a date for share acquisition that was two weeks out – made no difference at all, but did prick up my antenna.

But, the pension contribution stumped me completely. I couldn’t find any info I’d sent them, nor could I match the figure they’d used to any figure I’ve ever paid. EDIT – I can now match it, but to the total contributions from earlier in the year, so it’s still wrong, and they should still have got it right.  I checked with the tax office in case the guidance for last year was different, but it wasn’t – it looks like an error, with the figure underquoted by a material amount (enough that the tax rebate when corrected to the correct figure will be hundreds of pounds). I’ll ring  them on Monday to find out whether I’m missing something, but at the moment it looks like a screw-up on their part, and if so I am pretty irritated about the lack of care. If it is an error then I certainly wouldn’t use them again.

As an aside, in doing this I’ve called the tax office a couple of times with queries about specific elements. I have to say that they have the most helpful and knowledgeable call centre I’ve ever talked to.

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