It’s that time of year again, when millions of self-employed people are faced with shelling out their half-yearly income tax payments. Paying is painful enough but if you’re anything like most people, you’ll find the form filling bit a complete nightmare.

It’s meant to be simple, written in Plain Language. But in reality the self-assessment form is a triumph in complexity. And the instructions for filling it in aren’t very helpful either. Probably because they’re written by people who already fully understand the system when it’d make a great deal more sense to get a novice on the job.

But there’s good news on the horizon. If like 350,000 or so other people, the tax man decides your tax affairs are actually ‘relatively straightforward’, you might be able to free yourself from the horror of the Tax Return forever. So what’s the story?

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll receive a standard letter from HMRC telling you they’ve released you from your form-filling obligations. But you don’t need to wait and see. Instead, providing you feel your affairs are simple enough, you can contact them in writing and ask to be removed from the system.

Can I avoid a tax return next time around?

If you can say ‘no’ to this little lot, you stand a good chance of escaping the dreaded self-assessment form.

  1. Are you a Trustee of any kind?
  2. Do you or your partner qualify for child benefit under the new rules?
  3. Are you self-employed or do you work in a partnership?
  4. Are you a company director, a minister or a name at Lloyd’s of London?
  5. Do you earn £100,000 or more per year?
  6. Does rental property earn you more than £2,500 a year after deductible expenses?
  7. Do your savings and investments deliver £10,000 or more a year?
  8. Do you earn money from abroad?
  9. If you’re employed by someone, do you claim more than £2,500 expenses / subscriptions?
  10. Do you owe Capital gains tax because you’ve given away or sold an asset?
  11. Do you get a taxable income, for example from a dead person’s estate?
  12. Are you aged 65 or more with a reduced age-related allowance / an income of more than £25,400 for this tax year?

Worth a go? Definitely! Just write to them in good time, because the wheels at HMRC tend to grind pretty slowly and April, when the new tax year begins, isn’t far off.