Accountancy firm Exchequer Accountancy has just launched a dyslexia-friendly tax return service for dyslexic self-employed individuals, aimed at decreasing HMRC fines due to tax return errors whilst also reducing the stress caused by the task.
According to new research, over half of self-employed individuals struggling with dyslexia fill-in their own tax returns, with an equal amount admitting they made errors when submitting tax returns – resulting in 16% being fined by HMRC. This is due to the disadvantageous position dyslexic self-employed people are in, where the use of written forms and financial language can enhance the task’s difficulty.
Findings highlight that dyslexic people filling in their tax return incorrectly on a regular basis could face fines of up to £900.
The report also found that a quarter believe to be struggling to understand how to complete tax returns, enhancing once again the difficulty of the task.
Understanding the needs of dyslexic individuals
When reflecting on the amount of time spent on their tax return submission, a quarter of self-employed professionals with dyslexia reported the process takes weeks to complete, with 14% saying it takes months.
Due to this, a third report they lack confidence when processing their tax returns, whilst 77% encounter stress when thinking about the complex task of filling their tax return.
Every member of customer service team has been fully trained by The Dyslexia Network in understanding the needs of dyslexic individuals.
To launch the new service, the accountancy firm is also partnering with Harlequins rugby player and former England captain Chris Robshaw. Being diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of nine, Robshaw is an advocate for improved accountancy services for those with dyslexia.
Talking about his own experience, Robshaw said: “It is important to acknowledge the difficulties people with dyslexia face when filing government forms, particularly the complicated process of tax returns. I have struggled throughout my adult life to fill out forms with confidence and always worry that I may have made mistakes or will be fined.
“To see Exchequer Accountancy recognising this problem and taking a positive step forward by providing a dyslexia friendly tax return service, we will hopefully create a catalyst for change and raise awareness of the discrimination faced by people with learning difficulties when filling out a tax return.”
Rethinking tax return service
Expanding on the idea which bought the project to light, Victoria Delafaille, manager director of Exchequer Accountancy explained: “We were inspired by one of our own employees personal experience with dyslexia, she challenged us to rethink the way we deliver tax return service.
“Her brother is dyslexic and had struggled with his tax return for many years, so we spotted the need for a more inclusive service. The process has opened our eyes to those clients who may not actually be ignoring emails from us, but rather as a result of a learning difficulty, and as such, we’ve adapted our contact methods.
“Phone calls that used to be around 30 mins to an hour are now broken down in to four shorter ten-minute calls with follow up emails, giving clients the chance to digest what has been said and ask any questions on the next call.”
10% of the UK population suffers from dyslexia, according to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), defined as a learning difficulty that affect an individual’s skills in terms of word reading and spelling.