Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Taxing problems

I have the misfortune to have to fill in a self assessment tax form this year  - well at least I think I do! I had a letter from the Inland Revenue (my blood runs cold when ever I see their envelopes) back in August telling me that they thought I should be filling in a tax form and they would tell me which one it should be. Well, I've heard nothing since, so I thought I'd go on line as the ruddy deadline is up on  31st Jan!  I have to wait for some sort of activation code before I can do it on line and I won't know what I'm doing when I do access the form!!!!! 

I haven't actually earned much from my writing so I know I won't have to pay anything tax wise. I pay National Inssurance like the rest of us do but the situation has now been complicated by me starting work for an employer. I remember filing in a tax form when I was self employed in 2000 as an holistic therapist (I have very creative hands - I was going to say "and tension - releasing hands" until I thought it didn't sound quite right and thought better of it.)  Anyway, the form was a nightmare to fill in then. It stressed me out but I was so relieved to find out I'd done it correctly. If I find out on the 1st of Feb that I didn't need to fill a form in I'll go spare! Why oh why have the Inland Revenue not been in contact since August to tell me which form and why I need to fill it in?! Will I get this information on the 1st of Feb - the day after the dead line?!

God help me if I ever actually make enough money from my writing to warrant a more complicated tax form!
It will be fine - I did it before and I'll do it again.

My head hurts! But I'm excited that I actually have been paid for my writing - someone thought my writing was good enough to warrent payment! How fantastic is that?!

Happy writing!

Julie xx

17 comments:

Suzanne Jones said...

And it gets even worse if your turnover goes over the VAT threshold. I could rant at length aboout tax returns and red tape (I hate them all with a passion, most of them have only been devised to get more money out of us) but I'd only depress everyone, so I won't.

You did well, Julie. Just make sure you keep all your receipts and details of mileage so you can write them off against income, because the rate you're going it won't be long before your paying tax.

XX

Carole Anne Carr said...

Do make sure you record every mile, you get 40p a mile tax allowance, every book you purchase for your work, every society joining fee, travelling to interview people, printing ink, computer costs, if you both stay overnight in connection to your work you can claim board and lodge, but not for your husband, and of course every bit of petrol. I could go on and on, but keep every little receipt, postage, phone calls, stamps.......keep a detailed record...

Carole Anne Carr said...

Check now ring up your tax office, find out if you are already listed as self employed...they usually treat small earnings as a hobby, you must check this, but if your earnings increase you should be listed as self employed...good luck!

Sue Ross said...

You're right Julie, if you have a second job you do get clobbered.
I wonder if you can ask for both incomes to be assessed together so you have just one code?

Complicated stuff.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Suzanne. I hate tax things because I don't really understand them. I have to wait for a code to come through the post, but once that has come I'll be away! I'm lucky that there isn't much to put on the form - but I can only imagine the terrors if you earn more from your writing!

I just don't understand why the Inland Revenue sent me a letter in Aug saying they thought I should fill in a tax form and they would tell me which when and when but I've heard nothing sonce! Or is this typical of them?!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Carole. I have receipts etc and I will ring the tax office later to see what I have to do. I'm not very finance/tax minded - it's all a blur to me - but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it all.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

It's crazy, Sue! I think I ned to talk to someone in the tax office to discuss what my options are and get them to explain the process to me - what you can and cannot claim etc. I'm sure they have a leaflet on it. Most Govt depts do don't they!

Julie xx

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hi Julie,
I'd forgotten that Shropshire County Council is paying you for your work in schools, so of course you will be receiving money from them and that is why the tax people are bothing you, or maybe someone who is paying you for your writing has listed you in their returns. Either way, if the income from writing is not too much it possibly can be listed as a hobby and included on your normal SCCouncil tax return....xx

joanne pibworth said...

I totally sympathise Julie, i'm doing exactly the same thing this very afternoon. I should actually be doing it this very minute, but I am putting it off and reading blogs instead! Good Luck, it'll be such a relief to press submit. x

Olivia Ryan said...

Commiserations, Julie. I have a nervous breakdown every year doing my tax form. I still do it the old-fashioned way, on paper, because for some reason I find it less scary (?). Everyone who earns anything at all from self-employed work (writing etc) is supposed to fill in a self-assessment form. In fact it's fairly straightforward, my husband helps with the maths (not my strong point) and I always end up wondering why I panicked - but I do every year. One piece of advice: PHONE them - to ask about the tax form, for instance - or whenever you have a query. I've found them, surprisingly, to be very helpful and sympathetic over the phone. I've had a lot of changes - from working full-time plus earning hardly anything from writing, to working part-time and earning a bit more from writing, through being unemployed, back at work, earning less, earning more ... to giving up work and now getting my pension. I phone them whenever I'm not sure if I'm doing things right, because (for instance) I found out too late, that you have to pay TWO lots of N.I. if you work as an employee AND self-employed - and got a horrible backdated bill. No-one had told me, and the nice guy at the tax office agreed that it was partly their fault and suggested I sent a letter pleading my case. Didn't work - still had to pay - but they agreed to small monthly repayments. If you're like me you're probably scared of phoning them! - but take courage, they will help. x

Kath said...

Julie, I agree with everyone else, that you should phone them. They have a very good helpline.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Joanne

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I did go on line today and activated the thing but it appears I might not have to fill one in until next year. It said Type of form required: none - but I will double check tomorrow and ring the help line too.
Julie xx

Julie P said...

It's Telford & Wrekin council I work for, Carol, but thanks for the advice it's been really helpful.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Oh dear, Olivia,

How horrible to get a back dated NI bill. I already pay NI contributions for my self employment and will do so for my nursery work too,so hopefully I won't get a nasty surprise!

I'll phone them tomorrow if I'm still unsure. But I've been on line tonight and feel better about it.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Kath!

Suzanne Jones said...

Re your comment about not having to fill in a form yet - that sounds right. The 31st Jan 2010 deadline is for the year to April 2009 - so if you started working in the year April 09 to April 10, then you won't need to report to the tax office until next year.

But do ring them, everyone's right, they are lovely. (I normally find the advisors on the self-employed helpline are much more helpful than the local office, but that could just be me).

Hope that makes sense.

XX

Julie P said...

Thanks, Suzanne.

I will ring them when I come back from the nursery this afternoon just to be sure.

Julie xx