I just had a phone call from a very good mate of mine, gabbling on about some good news he'd just received from the tax man: apparently, he no longer has to submit a tax return, which, I think we'd all agree, sounds rather fine. Imagine laughing at the drones who still have to submit their returns every year, not having to stress about it and gather the documents and so on and so forth. It all sounds rather lovely.
It sounds a bit too good to be true, and there are a string of conditions attached to it that mean that you pretty much have to do a self-assessment anyway, just to make sure you haven't broken one of the 50 or so conditions that mean you have to submit it anyway.
But then I asked him how accurate his PAYE had been for the last couple of years and the truth came out. For the last five years or so, his PAYE has consistently taken too much tax - not a lot, never more than £1500 and as little as £100 one year. But having spent no more than an hour on my tax return this year, including a call to HMRC to clarify something, I reckon that even £100 for an hour's work is worth having, let along £1500!
So it looks to me very much like HMRC are planning on shutting down on people who regularly claim tax back, all the while making it look like they are being generous and kind. Needless to say, I haven't had any such letter, even though my annual shortfall to HMRC is usually less than £500, they somehow still feel that I need to submit a tax return.