The latest research by finance specialists, The RIFT Group, has revealed that technical jargon and complicated calculations are the two biggest challenges many UK workers face when staying on top of life admin tasks such as their tax return.
Life admin can be a headache for most, but some find it more challenging than others. Across England, it’s thought that 16% of adults score at the lowest level in literacy, while 24% score low in numeracy.
A survey of UK self-employed workers, commissioned by The RIFT Group, found that just 34% of workers are completely confident when tackling life admin tasks such as their tax return.
Understanding the official jargon used by bodies such as HMRC ranked as the top issue regarding their biggest challenges. Making the required calculations and writing any required responses were also significant obstacles.
As a result of these challenges, 54% stated that it impacted their ability to keep up with their life admin tasks.
For those that struggled, this meant having to ask others for help to complete tasks such as their tax return and taking a far longer time to complete them. Many also stated that they put off attempting such tasks, and the struggle in completing them led them to feel overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated or angry.
When asked specifically about the process of completing their tax affairs, 40% stated they found it a daunting task to undertake.
No surprise, then, that 41% utilised the professional help of a financial expert such as an accountant. However, as many as 56% stated they had never applied for a tax refund from HMRC, despite the average amount owed currently sitting at £1,444.
A lack of awareness was the driving factor behind their lack to apply for a tax refund, followed by the fact that the process was too complicated and deterred them completely. At the same time, many could not contact HMRC to get the required information.
Despite these complications, HMRC has stated that those seeking a tax refund should do so directly rather than seek the help of a tax refund agent. But one in five of those surveyed by The RIFT Group don’t agree with this advice, and almost a quarter (23%) would prefer to pay a tax refund agent to ensure they receive the full refund owed to them.
Bradley Post, MD of The RIFT Group, commented: “Life admin can be a pain at the best of times, but for those who struggle with literacy or numeracy, it can seem like an insurmountable obstacle, particularly those who are self-employed and have to tackle the arduous task of submitting a tax return.
“Unfortunately, HMRC doesn’t make it easy, and putting the complex calculations to one side, the official jargon used only makes the task all the harder and can seem like a foreign language sometimes.
“So it’s no surprise that many of us opt for third-party help when it comes to keeping our tax affairs in order, yet when securing a tax refund, HMRC has advised against the help of third-party tax refund agents.
“Unfortunately, the complex process and the inability to contact HMRC to obtain the required information is enough to deter many from claiming money they are rightfully owed.”