Tax returns: more painful than the dentist?Which? survey reveals tax return anxiety

23 January 2016

Lady at dentist's

Some people would rather visit the dentist than fill in a tax return.

Two in five people who complete a tax return dread it more than going to the dentist, a new poll reveals.

Which? surveyed 500 people who fill in a self-assessment tax return to gauge how much they dreaded it, compared with various chores. 

In the poll, 38% said their tax return filled them with more dread than the dentist's chair. 

Other tasks that some respondents said they dreaded less than filling in a tax return included unblocking a drain (35%) and cleaning a filthy oven (34%).

Paying the right tax?

Which? published an investigation in January which revealed many people faced a wait of more than an hour on the HMRC tax helpline last year. 

Each year, about 60 million call the helpline to speak to HMRC about their tax affairs.

Our recent survey highlighted the importance of being able to speak to a tax adviser: one in ten respondents said that they're weren't confident they were paying the right amount of tax. 

Free tool: The Which? tax calculator allows you to calculate your tax bill before submitting any figures to HMRC. It has extensive help notes with advice on tax deductible expenses and what income you need to declare. 

Where to get tax advice

We asked our respondents how long it took them to complete their tax return (including gathering necessary documentation, or calling HMRC if they needed to).

A quarter of respondents said it took between one and three hours. One in ten claimed it took them more than three hours. 

HMRC says that waiting times on its helpline have reduced since our investigation: the self-assessment helpline is 0300 200 3310.

Which? members get unlimited access to the experts on the Which? Money Helpline, who offer one-to-one help with self-assessment.

Tax return deadline

The deadline for filing your online tax return is 31 January 2016. If you file it late, you face extra penalty fees and interest charges

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