How to stay on top of tax

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It is now under a week until HMRC’s paper tax return deadline. Keeping up with tax deadlines and legislative changes can be a juggling act when you have various work commitments. Steven Perryman shows you the resources available to help make sure you’re always in the know – and on time

HMRC – deadline and penalties
It is now only a week until HMRC’s paper tax return deadline – fittingly pencilled in for Halloween, or 31 October for the less superstitious. Of course, there is a second deadline for online returns too in the new year – 31 January 2013 – which is just as easy to lose track of post-Christmas.

Make sure you diarise these dates and keep tabs on HMRC’s deadlines and penalties page for any changes.

MyAAT e-learning (AAT members only)
If you haven’t tried it yet, visit AAT’s interactive e-learning section on MyAAT. It features quizzes to help you handle tax-related matters, such as P11D – expenses and benefits for employees. And it all counts towards your CPD.

ICAEW online tax library
Tax is just one section of this impressive online archive, which contains free information from the government as well as commercial books and guides.

Non-ICAEW-members have access to a range of free resources via the website, including the library catalogue, and are allowed to use the organisation’s document delivery service. Non-members can also visit the library by providing a letter of introduction from a current ICAEW member, by payment of a fee or by special permission.

AAT tax mastercourses (AAT members only)
AAT is running a series of mastercourses throughout the Autumn looking at tax issues.

November’s HMRC Investigations mastercourse in Newcastle provides up to date information on HMRC activities and its current approach to tax regulation covering corporate tax, personal tax, national insurance and PAYE.

The Developing Tax Strategies for Clients mastercourse – which is run in conjunction with the Association of Tax Technicians – takes place in Bristol, London and Newcastle and looks at both personal and business tax.

HMRC online library
Love it or hate it, HMRC is the master of tax – and accountants need to understand its legislation.

Its library has a wealth of key information for accountants. Even if you are not presently involved in handling a certain tax, reading up and preparing yourself for the future is good CPD.

AAT Ethics
With a new celebrity tax scandal seemingly emerging every month, not to mention the hot topic of ethics in banking, ethics in finance is currently a more relevant issue than ever. AAT ethics offers an extensive library of interactive resources, including a section dedicated to the ethics of tax avoidance.

Office for Tax Simplification (OTS)
Described by its tax director, John Whiting, as being ‘of government but not in government’, the OTS is a quasi-independent body making recommendations on simplifying the UK’s fiendishly complex tax system.

Its section on the Treasury’s website keeps you up to date with its latest developments. Not everything the OTS recommends is adopted by government, but it’s important to understand what this important advisory body is thinking: some day those thoughts might become law.

Tax lobby groups
Heavy on opinion, but still worth reading if you are interested in the debates and rows over tax that have become an evergreen feature of public life, tax lobby groups’ sites can be thought-provoking and entertaining.

Two favourites that look at the tax world from different perspectives are the Taxpayers’ Alliance – which campaigns for lower taxes – and Tax Research UK, which campaigns for a stronger crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion.




Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.

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