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How do you do it?

Before Self Assessment came in I had no problems with filing Tax Returns and my turnover was virtually the same every month.  Then the Chancellor stood up and said he was going to simplify the tax system and I had visions of early retirement.  Now we have the dreaded 31st January deadline.  All my client's seem to think they are my only client so if they roll up in late January with a big grin on their face and say "I know I promised to let you have it earlier this year BUT with this and that I have just not got round to doing it.... BUT it will be early next year!!!!!!!"

HMRC seem to think the way forward is to issue penalties but all their threats seem to be landing on deaf ears.

Business would be great if we could get the information in early - HMRC think is us lot stock piling the returns - I wish it was.  So what is the sucessful way of getting the client to shift his (or her) backside and the question is WHAT DO YOU DO?

Obviously there has to be a balance, offering discounts gives the impression you are overcharging in the first place, stating you will charge an extra surcharge meets with the answer they will move elsewhere, at the end of the day I want a system that is benefits my good client's.  Ranting and Raving merely gets us closer to a wooden overcoat.  Ideally I feel SA should probably be rejigged to a similar system to corporation tax filing but a) that ain't going to happen and b) most of them have a similar attitude.  All I want is a nice quiet and hassle free life where the 20% of the pains (same people every year) do not give us 80% of the aggro when we least need it! 


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By ACDWebb
15th Dec 2011 20:28

Send regular reminders

always include a paragragh warning that penalties will ensue this year, and that for anyone bringing papers in after (say) 30 November you will do your best to finalise the return for submission by 31 Jan, but this does not include working yourself to an early grave, or perhaps that you give no guarantees and that for this and future years HMRC penalties will arise.

Then stick the absolute worst offenders on your D list and sack them when they get snotty about the penalty they got charged

"stating you will charge an extra surcharge meets with the answer they will move elsewhere" - to which the response ought probably to be "off you trot then"

What was it Tone said? Education, education, education.

I suspect there may be a few clients who get a nasty surprise this year when the penalty note drops through their door and the only response you can give is "Well I did warn you regularly that this would happen"

Then again some will never get the message (D list).

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15th Dec 2011 22:38

I tell them..........

...........I'm going on holiday from 20th December until 1st Feb.  Works a treat


Thanks (1)
By DMGbus
16th Dec 2011 08:54

Increasing fee quotations required

Clients like to have an idea what level of fee they're likely to be charged.

My "late brigade" get a quote which goes up and up and up the later they supply complete information.    If they supply late data they get charged a premium rate fee that allows me to feel more comfortable working longer hours in January.   Not yet lost a client because of this policy yet, but then one day I might and won't be bothered if I do.




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Learn from HMRC & your experience

As you say penalties, shouting and even appealing to people's better nature do not work, so stop using them.  By maintaining your practice of managing to cram them all in and save them the penalty you are reinforcing their behaviour, why should they change?

All we did in 2008 was say our deadline for your information is 3 months after the year end (whether tax year or accounts year).  We email them start of April with their checklist and tell them they have till 5 July to get us the info and follow up with a similar reminder mid May and then an "only 3 weeks to go" reminder mid June.  In the 4 years we have received over 70% of client info by 1st week of July. If they are still late and have not asked for a few weeks extra because of a family wedding or holiday etc then we leave them alone, the rest is up to them.

As a psychologist client said to me "it's the deadline stupid" people work to the given deadline, all you need to do is remind them, no threats, no "please be nice to me" no "remember our fees will increase".

Our terms and conditions do increase our annual quoted fees by a sliding scale for late info to the point where the annual fee is + 75% if after 1 January but we hardly ever use it because I don't want the grief or their money, so, if we can't fit it in within our normal working arrangements, (which are already stressed with other work), we don't do it and the returns go in late.  If the client pleads with us to try and get it in before 31 January they pay the extyra 75%.

We have not lost one client doing this and most actually like the fact they can force themselves to get it all out the way early.

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