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Does anyone want my clients?!

NOT A QUESTION REALLY BUT I'M SURE YOU'VE ALL GOT SIMILAR STORIES.

Take my clients please!!

As we all are, the last two weeks tend to be left for the dregs of society. In the last 24 hrs I have encountered

1) Drove to taxi driver's house (you would think he could get in his taxi and come to me) - we went through his box of cr*p and "lo and behold" the last two year's blank VAT returns were there after all, as was my letter and draft accounts. Funny that.

2) Met with second car dealer whose accounts show a GP of 7%. Nice chap but the "I'm stupid I don't understand figures" is wearing a bit thin now. Then he wondered if I could pop back with final accounts so he could sign - it seems a stamp is too hard. Managed to say no.

3) Collected records of another client who hasn't paid PAYE for a year. Says he hasn;t got any money. Hasn;t paid £14,000 to last firm yet, hasn't filed 09/10 yet but now concerned with the automatic £100 penalty even if no tax due!! Cheque upfront on this one me thinks.

Before anyone starts getting bitchy about "don't leave the office get them to come to you" all of the above were near enough next to each other. No cups of tea offered either.

4) Client came round last night at 8pm last night with £2,000 cash (to save her bank charges of course). Then I get a text to say I never signed for the cash as proof I'd received it. (Like 3 months credit to her wasn't enough she wanted proof that I wouldn't ask for the same amount twice".  My wife stopped me storming out the house and giving her shoe pie and stopping sending back a very long rude text. But she did get a blunt reply

5) Another client whom I've known 12 months has given my name to someone wanting a character reference. Didn't bother to ask me. THis shady firm called and emailed yesterday as I funnily enough haven;t found time to reply to their call and email of Thursday.

6) Clients sign and send back accounts but not the tax returns!! Can't these monkeys read a letter?

I'm sure there's more but this rant isn't making 25 o/s returns nil. I shouldn't really moan as the above five client all add up to over £6,000 which to some people is six months work.

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21st Jan 2012 15:05

.

It's late enough now.. grab a beer. I think you need one!

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21st Jan 2012 15:15

It doesn't have to be like that

By tomorrow I will have zero left to file out of over 160.  I think you could benefit next year from using my tactics to ensure everyone turns up in good time, please see my earlier posts on this subject.

I am not growing my business as agressively as when I started up, but still seeking quality new clients.  Twice this month I have been at networking events and been the only accountant in the room out of 70 to 80 people, normally I'd see at least another 4 competitors and I am sure come 1 Feb they'll all be back again.

This is a triple whammy for firms around here in the Lake District:

1.  They are driving themselves nuts doing 14 hour days on tax returns.

2.  They are doing no business development.

3.  They have no time for strategic meetings with key clients.  I've had a number of those this month.  If you're running a large pub, shop or small hotel, January is a quietish month aroung here.  It's the ideal time to sit down with your accountant over a coffee and discuss your marketing and operational strategy for 2012. 

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21st Jan 2012 16:48

a shoebox of receipts has just arrived....................

Who wants it..... !!!!

 

Edit - musn't grumble, actually a nice client (!!) job takes 3 hours - they pay (sorry have already paid)  £400 - nice work for a Saturday afternoon/Sunday Morning

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21st Jan 2012 16:47

make it as easy as possible

Put sticky notes sticking out the side, with arrows pointing in, at every place where they have to sign.

Highlight important bits of letters with highlighter pen.

No one has ever told me they find this offensive to their intelligence so I will continue....

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By VLH
31st Jan 2012 11:21

Cheapo post its

taxhound wrote:

Put sticky notes sticking out the side, with arrows pointing in, at every place where they have to sign.

Highlight important bits of letters with highlighter pen.

No one has ever told me they find this offensive to their intelligence so I will continue....

 

If you go to Tesco they usually do little flag post its (paper not plastic) which are really cheap.  We've been using them for several years now and it has stopped all sorts of things coming back unsigned - particularly things which require more than one signature.  If there are various people signing I usually put the initials (in pencil) of who is to sign where.

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21st Jan 2012 18:41

Email?

Can't you do more of this work by email and post?

If they say it's urgent surely they can come to you!?

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I keep telling them to F*off.  Just wrote a nice email to a horrible lady explaining that our deadline was the 31st October and she told me she was going to do her own, and no, we couldn't do it by 31st Jan. I didn't mention her repeated begging calls over the weekend (I only popped into my office to work out why the phone kept ringing (I work from home, and she has called 4 times now over the weekend). I did offer to do it by the end of Feb, but I know full well I wont hear from her for about 4 weeks.  Quite frankly she can keep her £500.

I only have four left, all done really from my point of view, two just waiting for the client to send the final bits and bobs, one I think is seriously ill and has gone quiet so we will send estimates and one always sends on the 30th (and I do it as it takes about 30 minutes and he pays £250+VAT, and we can do it all via email) and we have about 15 out for signature most of which should arrive next week with the usual 4 or 5 needing a rocket strapped to them next weekend to get them to put a signature on a bit of paper and put it into a pre-paid envelope to save them £100.

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Don't do it

Reading of all that lot made me shiver, yes I think most firms will have had clients like that but by even going to see them in the second place (one year of crap is more than enough) you are just backing up their behaviour.  Just say no, the fees are secondary, as I've just heard said on the radio "I don't have to do this for a living, I could starve to death".

I have one such client, he's nice enough but hopeless at gettig me the info, he's due a £60K refund but hasn't given me his bank interest, I don't want to double his fees (as I am entitled to do) and if he sends the info tomorrow I won't do the return before 31 Jan (even though I could), I have better things to do, like year end planning for considerate clients or just going home. 

 

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22nd Jan 2012 17:03

January Madness

This is the first year when I have placed ads for tax work, and the phone got red hot one day last week.

Almost the first thing the prospect said was, "how much would you charge for..." I have decided not to do last minute work this year and I have politely told them I wasn't going to stress myself out for them. The other comment one gets is "it won't take you very long". I have to bite back the comment "if you know so much about it why then don't you do it your XXXX self then?"

I suspect I might be missing out on someone nice who just needs some encouragement to get things done on time for next year, but judging by the calls I've had recently no-one sounded that nice!

I am determined not to work for people that I despise, so I may become rather thin in the coming months.

 

 

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22nd Jan 2012 17:18

Totally agree with these comments about people who in my view - unless ill or otherwise in unusual circumstances - often seem they can't be bothered.

One thing I've found which really works is what I call my "yellow card letter".  It specifies exactly what the client needs to do and by when - typically 4 to 6 weeks - or I'll be resigning.  The response rate is as follows:

60%  really shape up and deliver the goods, and here I include two clients who were over 3 years behind with VAT and accounts, their previous accountants had totally failed with them.  Both now fully up to date.

20% ignore the letter and follow up phone calls. So they get a red card.

20% make an effort, but more of a half-hearted one than the first lot.  So at least we're getting somewhere.  With these it depends.  If we're missing filing deadlines with Companies House or HMRC I will issue a red card.  If not I tend to issue a further yellow a couple of months later, so far that has done the trick apart from one client who will probably be an ex-client in a month or so.

To me, if HMRC get serious over monitoring things by accountancy practice, each and every "can't be bothered" client is potentially letting down the whole practice and every decent client. If they can't be bothered, then I can't be bothered with them as clients.  Note that I only give up after having gone the extra mile compared to most locals, will probably have made a couple of visits to them to pick up information.

 

 

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By pawncob
22nd Jan 2012 20:36

All Done

I'm just pissed off that despite all returns being in before October, HMRC still write to clients reminding them to submit returns before 31st January.

Bunch of clowns!

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22nd Jan 2012 22:45

£££ upfront plus "a chat"

we've picked up some good clients in december and jan that have needed work doing for 31/1.  some have had very valid reasons for the lateness, plus our main competitor in our niche went out of business in the autumn & we have picked up many of thier clients.  some people just need a kick of the bum .... someone to set a timetable for them ... and they are fine.  i picked up loads in january last year & got double fees from them in jan (2010 tax year) & then may/june (2011 tax year).

 

three conditions: 

 

1.  pay upfront - no payment, no work

2.  agree a specific month up to july for receipt of next years work

3.  use our templates/tools for record keeping

 

i turn anyone away in jan that i think are dregs ... not much differnet to rest of year though.  we have >50% personal tax clients, many just need to be told what to do and when.  i'm actually seriously thinking of taking on a PA to answer the phone etc but also deal with client work scheduling.  for 15k a year its got to be a good investment ... if i can add 100k to the  fee bank in 2012 that is LOL

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By Tosie
25th Jan 2012 06:44

horrible clients

 Why do these clients when they earn substantial amounts of money regard £100 fine such a terrible fate .

I have put off ringing a female doggy knowing that I will get half an hour of abuse because her tax is £500 more than last year.Good job we have this site for mutual support.

 

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25th Jan 2012 08:06

I always emphasise the other downsides

Late submissions have other consequences besides penalties .....

Any fee protection insurance is invalidated, tax return more likely to be pulled for enquiry, it may affect their rating if they want gross CIS payments, etc. ... all for the sake of getting themselves better organised and get up off their backsides and do it, instead of thinking about it.

... and no ... it isn't my fault .. it's theirs. They get plenty of reminders and choose to ignore them!

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25th Jan 2012 11:35

Shirleym

Fee protetion insurance from some providers runs to 30 days after the deadline but your other comments stand.

 

My only comment is that for the right fee we can all be bought.  Me included.  I used to have a client who delivered his stuff on 28 Jan.  Always paid triple and propmptly.

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More valuable work to do

Even though we've only had a handfull of cases, a couple have been huge and have dragged on for a couple of months and so it's reminded me how stressful things can be @ this time of year.

I've not had this for a few years now and what's made it worse is that if you get this stuff done & dusted in the summer/autumn you can spend valuable time dealing with pre-year end planning, so I get a lot of the considerate clients contacting me now with 9 months figures.  So, why should I deny them this work, and deny me enjoyment in doing it, in favour of a handful of disrespectful people, even if they agree to pay double the fees quoted?

So next year's T&Cs will be changed to: "subject to reasonable excuse (eg in court for money laundering), if information is not here by mid-December the return will not be done".

@Shirley - agree with your approach, the problem is I think my insurance provider still covers them even if the return was late.  It's a service not insurance I provide and so I don't tell them and they are not covered for my time if late.

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25th Jan 2012 11:46

All but one...

I have prepared and posted all mine...... except One!

That particular client doesn't feel a tax return is needed this year because they were only self employed for two months!

Sent a copy of the HMRC client page issuing a Tax return and a letter detailing a) what information I need and b) penalties that could be incurred.

Not heard anything from them and point blank refuse to ring to chase. Not sure I am going to be paid even if the work gets done.

I wont hold my breath......

 

Think I may go on holiday at the end of January next year......

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25th Jan 2012 11:53

ha ha ha wheeee

As at todays date

102 clients have not brought their stuff in

53 are currently being worked on

119 have been sent out but not returned yet

So thats 270 to go and I have 4.5 working days to do it, not too shabby if i do say so myself. Last year I think there were 47 no shows.

.....and the plane leaves gatwick on Friday 3rd Feb and by 1pm I shall be on the slopes of St Gervais...

 

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25th Jan 2012 12:07

Hehe

Tom 7000 wrote:

As at todays date

102 clients have not brought their stuff in

53 are currently being worked on

119 have been sent out but not returned yet

So thats 270 to go and I have 4.5 working days to do it, not too shabby if i do say so myself. Last year I think there were 47 no shows.

.....and the plane leaves gatwick on Friday 3rd Feb and by 1pm I shall be on the slopes of St Gervais...

 

 

EPIC!

I hope you're not on your own!

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25th Jan 2012 12:28

Wow

Tom 7000 wrote:

As at todays date

102 clients have not brought their stuff in

53 are currently being worked on

119 have been sent out but not returned yet

So thats 270 to go and I have 4.5 working days to do it, not too shabby if i do say so myself. Last year I think there were 47 no shows.

.....and the plane leaves gatwick on Friday 3rd Feb and by 1pm I shall be on the slopes of St Gervais...

 

Are you serious?

I have 3 to do, compared with 18 at this point last year and I'm all pleased with myself ... but if I had 270 outstanding it would do my head in!!!

I wonder how many you had to do in total? You probably don't want to say but my guess is 2,000.

 

 

 

 

 

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25th Jan 2012 11:55

oh yes 1 more thing

Thin lizzy in concert at cambridge corn exchange tonight  so looks like a 5pm finish today

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25th Jan 2012 12:04

re: Clients

Hi All

 

 

I am sure we all have them; but my best to date is the one you have been nagging since 1st April 2011 for his paper work; finally he gets here on the 13th Janaury 2012. Please can we make sure they are on line by the 31st as they will take away his ability to make payment monthly on his old tax (I arranged this for him 3 years ago, and he is still not up to date) Just to cap it all he still oves us for 3 years accounts. If I stop we will never get paid, but the debt just keeps increasing.

 

Second on my list is the carrier bag brigade, come in on the last week and expect you to do get it done on time, but 'please do not charge me too much as I have no money'.

 

Yes we all have them; even those who have just been caught by the Inland Revenue as they have not completed a return for the pass 5 years...................

Having saved them, you then fight for your money.

 

Veronica

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25th Jan 2012 12:10

Nothing Seems To Work

We have tried all the tricks and threats over the years with little improvement.

Got tough with some this time and a few 'last minutes' (for whom we never seem to make a full recovery) have decided the grass is greener with another practice. They are welcome to them.

However, no sooner do we get rid of the persistent offender than new ones arrive!!!!!!!!

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25th Jan 2012 12:34

@Lancsboy2

Off topic but I was intrigued to read that your "main competitor in our niche went out of business". How did that happen? Retiring/selling up I can understand but going bust?!

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26th Jan 2012 00:01

illness = disintegrated practice

serious illness.  it was all very sudden, and a sad story that involved the principal and his son. his fees were around 350k, and the practice disintergrated over a period of maybe 6 months. some clients were transferred over to other franchisees in the network  i first became aware of it in the summer as started picking up some of his clients, then one of the key players in our niche left him and the dam burst.  i had a meeting with that key player last week, and the main concern is how we are going to handle a doubling of our turnover potentially in 2012, which means my 2-year plan has gone out of the window ... 

 

Red Leader wrote:

Off topic but I was intrigued to read that your "main competitor in our niche went out of business". How did that happen? Retiring/selling up I can understand but going bust?!

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26th Jan 2012 08:27

Wow!

Lancsboy2 wrote:

serious illness.  it was all very sudden, and a sad story that involved the principal and his son. 

I always wonder if my backup plan would actually work in the event of serious illness/accident, etc. It sounds like the whole practice pivotted on the one person, which is very dangerous, unless you are a sole practitioner. That is all very sad for the staff who have probably lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

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25th Jan 2012 12:29

its easy

Whats your credit card number....splendid, we shall be charging it for the last years you havent paid for yet and this one I am going to email you in 2 mins....

 

If you boys are doing tax returns and dont expect to be paid, you can do some of mine...and since the lats post 24 mins ago we have submitted another 15 so that helps our stats woo hoo the ski slopes getting nearer

 

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25th Jan 2012 23:45

card reader?

tom, 

 

have you found having a card reader cost-effective?  i've seen the wireless handheld ones for £300 ... and thought "why not".  i've had a few clients ask if they can pay by card, & anything that gets the dosh in the bank has got to be worth it.  plus, for the new clients coming & wanting work done upfront, its removes any barrier to payment (lost my online banking gizmo ...haven't got a cheque book ... blah blah).  worth it?

 

Tom 7000 wrote:

Whats your credit card number....splendid, we shall be charging it for the last years you havent paid for yet and this one I am going to email you in 2 mins....

 

If you boys are doing tax returns and dont expect to be paid, you can do some of mine...and since the lats post 24 mins ago we have submitted another 15 so that helps our stats woo hoo the ski slopes getting nearer

 

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By whithys
25th Jan 2012 12:36

You break your back for them and then they dont pay!!

I have got a client who still hasnt brought his stuff in, he owes me for last years accounts and I have refused to do this years until he pays.  He is frantically selling stuff on e bay so that he can bring his accounts in to be done and submitted on 31 January!!!  Not being hard on him but when others have done the dirty on me and not paid owing me over £5k I'm not going to be taken as a mug anymore.

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25th Jan 2012 12:49

374 clients, all done bar nine (although my partner's list isn't quite so good):

- One has been very ill and fully accepts the £100 fine, no books yet seen;

- One needs to send his P60, but owes fees so nothing will be done until paid;

- Two taken on in the last month and awaiting UTRs from HMRC;

- One taken on nine days ago and working on now, with no promise that it will be filed on time. Will get paid before filing and get 2012 records in by July or he goes;

- Two returns sent to clients (one three months ago) and chased (letter, e-mail, voicemial, text), duplicates sent, etc. Not going to chase again;

- Two returns signed and held but fees overdue (as they were last year) and will not be filed until we get paid.

Planning and good old fashioned nagging is the key for me. All clients have had 5-6 reminders by the end of October, and persistent late delivery, particularly when coupled with borderline recovery and/or late payment history results in them being sacked. Obviously I might give a little more leeway for a £1000 fee than a £150 one.

Note to Veronica: If the debt is getting worse, you are not getting paid anyway!

Mr Mischief: I agree that HMRC probably do look at firms' client lists and mark down those who have a high proportion of offenders, which is one of the reasons I get rid of them.

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25th Jan 2012 12:58

well you asked

559 Tax returns for company directors

175 For rental properties

148 for another reason

375  self employed ones inc p/ships 

1257 total

 

At this point last year the submission stats above were about 4% higher, so we are on track.

On 3rd Jan 56% were submitted ie 703 so since then 284 have gone in.

 

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25th Jan 2012 13:05

Thank you

Tom 7000 wrote:

559 Tax returns for company directors

175 For rental properties

148 for another reason

375  self employed ones inc p/ships 

1257 total

 

At this point last year the submission stats above were about 4% higher, so we are on track.

On 3rd Jan 56% were submitted ie 703 so since then 284 have gone in.

 

 

Thank you for sharing your stats, very impressive and I hope you get them all done ... apart from the ones that don't want to get done!!

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25th Jan 2012 13:03

270 returns in 4.5 days good going

Tom if you can submit 270 returns in 4.5 days that is good going but to finish at 5pm and go and see Thin Lizzy epic. Saw them on RTEs late show few months ago sound good but not the real thing. First saw them in a Church Hall when I was 13 only 300 people there and the sound was awesome. Saw Rory Gallagher 2 days later.....music could only go down hill after that.

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By Wilbur
25th Jan 2012 13:07

Stop whingeing...

If you don't want the work, say no!

If you don't want to go to your clients, say no!

Oh, you're money-grabbing...

What do you expect?!

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25th Jan 2012 13:49

Organ grinders/monkeys? Spike Milligan quote

Why don't fellow practitioners ever show their clients:

a) how to keep records (free ABC Accounts Books that I designed have proved a boon)

b) that they need to respond twice a year - once with Financial Accounts; and then again with Personal Tax Return data?

c) Early response leads to a great relationship between Adviser & Client.

 

As a former Prime Minister said: education, education, education.  (Well it was a catchy slogan - but everyone except me? was drawn in by it).

 

Just say "no" - you don't have to live in poverty - as money shouldn't be an "issue".  As Spike Milligan said: "Urgent?  Not to me it isn't"

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25th Jan 2012 15:01

ABC Accounts Books

Martin

Do you have some kind of disabled/limited version of the computerised ABC Accounts Books?

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25th Jan 2012 15:41

My best year ever (by a whisker)

The Worry List started with 352 cases of all types, and grew over the 10 months to 356. 19 have not been filed for good reason. 15 now left of which 3 are just awaiting authorisation codes, 3 are finished bar the shouting. The rest have yet to show up but are not complex - and as an earlier poster commented, the hourly rate on these tends to be good.

So this week I have been swimming every day to start burning off the fat built up over recent months sitting and fretting in front of the computer.

Compare these stats to the early days of Self-Assessment - 50 or 60 completed in the last two days, printed the hard way and delivered through the door of the Tax Office about 1 am. Online Filing has certainly transformed my working life

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25th Jan 2012 18:09

Bag o' sh1te!

A builder who disappeared for 3 years has just dropped off the quintessential plastic bag full of receipts. Next to no bank statements, a dog eared invoice duplicate book, and a one-er up front in cash. At least he had the good grace to drop it off!

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25th Jan 2012 18:15

How much?

Is a "one-er" a £1,000?

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25th Jan 2012 19:18

Beer tokens

A one-er is only £100 unfortunately. £1000 would have been one large.

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By NigeC
25th Jan 2012 21:16

No UTRs

Andy Reeves: Don't worry about those 2; if they don't have UTRs yet, returns have

n't been issued, so you have another 3 months.

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26th Jan 2012 13:34

But they registered late, so although the returns haven't physically been issued, they would have been had they registered self-employment/property income on time.

In that case, I think they are likely to be fined for the late returns or late registration, possibly both.

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Backup Plan - Continuity agreement?

It's a topic that comes up here from time to time but I'm wondering, if you are not required by a regulatary body to have a CA in place, how many bother to do them?

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26th Jan 2012 11:58

CA in place

Great idea in principle but as most accountants have full days how is he/she going to assist with the second business.  It works for holidays but not longterm illness.

Having staff off sick for a couple of weeks without notice is nightmare enough.

 

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26th Jan 2012 12:38

Not easy

I suppose you need a reasonably large practice that has some flexibility - easier said than done. It works when somebody dies because an expanding practice is aiming to take on staff regularly but it doesn't seem to work on a temporary basis.

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