It's pretty horrifying to file taxes in the UK. I am wasting a fairly substantial amount of time trying to get this done. I'm sure it was worse in the past but there are just so many ways that this can be done better. Here's my experiences as a self-employed person who just wants to pay his taxes online and be done with it.
So, if you need/want to pay taxes in the UK, the first thing you'll need is a national insurance number. I have no idea to get this if you're self employed because I got mine last year through regular employment. One hurdle crossed. Next obstacle: getting a unique taxpayer reference, which you'll need to do your taxes online. I called with HM revenue & customs to get my unique taxpayer reference. Unfortunately I said something wrong during the phone call which made them suspect my identity. This was either my full name (I usually use my nickname instead of my official name) or my address which might not have been updated. In any case, the person on the phone flat-out refused to speak to me until I had sent them a written letter confirming my personal details and a copy of my passport.
The letter was sent off and it took over a month until I heard from them again. The letter I received stated that my personal details had been updated and that my written request to get my unique taxpayer reference was acknowledged, and I would receive another letter soon containing my unique taxpayer reference. This was at the end of December so I was already doubtful that I would make the end-of-January cutoff for submitting my taxes on time (especially considering I was on holiday during that time). And indeed I still hadn't heard from them in mid-February, so I decided to call again. Finally I had a productive conversation that lasted all of 5 minutes, and lat week my unqiue taxpayer reference finally arrived.
Ready to start doing my taxes today I went on to hmrc.gov.uk to do my self-assessment only to find out that I have to register for it first, and that they'll send me an activation code via snailmail. Something that will undoubtedly take ages yet again.
This is not optimal. In fact, this is shit. In the Netherlands all citizens have something called a DigiD, a digital ID, which lets you do a ton of things online without too much effort. This would be perfect for people already living in the UK. But for people like me who come here to work, what I had much preferred is to just walk into an HMRC office with my passport, work contract and rental contract and have them sign me up for everything I need on the spot. Then there would be no need to jump through all these hoops to confirm all this bullshit. I've looked on the HMRC website to see if this is possible but I could find no such thing, they seem to prefer handling everyone by telephone (requiring all the stupid identification and verification steps). Perhaps it is actually possible and I should've looked better, I don't know. All I know is that I'm stuck sending and receiving messages through ancient modes of transportation. Ridiculous. Grow up, Britain.