By Daniel Hunter

Over a fifth of owners of the UK’s smallest businesses feel anxious about
completing their Self Assessment tax returns, according to research carried out by YouGov on behalf of online accounting provider FreeAgent.

In a poll of more than 500 owners of companies with five or fewer members of staff, 21% said that they were anxious about completing their tax return, whilst 5% said they were terrified - while just 35% said that they felt confident
about going through Self Assessment.

The poll also shows that 56% of those surveyed admit that they will either
pay a professional bookkeeper or accountant to complete their return for
them (52%), or ask a friend or family member for help (4%).

Many often leave submission as late as January, with 46% estimating they’ll
complete their returns within the month before the deadline, 16% within the
final week.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and founder of FreeAgent, said that the survey results
showed that Self Assessment remains a major cause for concern for many
business owners, despite HMRC’s commitment to making the process as easy and hassle-free as possible.

“The whole point of Self Assessment is that it should be as simple and stress-free as possible, and it clearly isn’t for many business owners," he said.

"Self Assessment is supposed to be an easy process that anyone can do, yet
more than half say they’ll get an accountant or friend to help them - which
suggests that the Government may need to consider making changes to ensure the process is easier.

“With the growth of cloud accounting systems, however, I expect to see a sustained rise in confidence over Self Assessment in the coming years. Small businesses are realising that an online accounting system not only offers an easy way to stay on top of your business accounts but also makes it easier to complete your tax return and ensure you submit it to HMRC in plenty of time.

“As more small business owners turn to online accounting for managing their
finances, I believe tax season will become a far less stressful and worrying
time - which, in turn, will enable people to focus on running and growing
their businesses.”

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