Taxing issues for clergy
I completed my tax return at the weekend. Not a great acheivement after more than four months, but with a deadline of January 2011, it's difficult to find the enthusiasm to plod through the endless pages of little boxes. My own return runs to 10 pages, with a further 30 of accompanying notes.
Like all paid clergy, I have to do a tax return because I am what HMRC quaintly calls a "minister of religion". One minor vicar generates the kind of paperwork more often associated with small businesses or commercial landlords. And in return for itemising every pound received and spent in the course of a year's ministry, I benefit from an insanely complicated tax scheme which, to the best of my reckoning, saves me about £150 a year, or a little over £12 a month. Never has so much effort been expended by so many for so small a return.
Of course, I could pay someone to do it for me, as many clergy do. Typically, this might cost me about £100, leaving me not much change but at least saving me the bother. And of course I'm glad of the savings which, after all, are not insignficant to anyone who depends on the stipend for their main income.
But really, there's got to be better way, hasn't there?