Self assessment: It's never too early to start

It’s mid-March; the skiing holidays have been taken, the feet put up and the work backlog tackled - so it’s time to start preparing for the January 2014 self assessment season!.

Before you pull out that hitlist of troublesome clients who need to be chased early, here is some feedback from fellow AccountingWEB members in the Thomson Reuters What would you do differently? survey into how this year’s season went, backed with practical advice on how to make next year run more smoothly.

A stoic bunch, 78% of our 250 survey respondents said they were back at work straight away, catching up on neglected items.

The other 20% were busy holidaying or simply spending time with family and catching up with their personal life - and possibly, sleep.

The biggest problems practitioners encountered this year, as with most years, were late and disorganised clients.

In response, 44% of respondents planned to introduce a premium rate for late clients, while 32% vowed they’d improve their system for dealing with clients with incomplete records.

Paul Duffield from Thomson Reuters urged accountants to use appropriate technology to eliminate bottlenecks and problem points, including the dreaded black bin bag jobs.

“Getting on a decent bookkeeping system is cheaper for the client and lets you handle more work at a time. You could turn an unprofitable client into a profitable one if you get them to do the work,” Duffield advised.

The survey report also looks at the activities of the 3% of respondents who said they would do nothing differently next year and draws on advice from the AccountingWEB community on how to tackle a range of tax season issues.

Topics covered inlcude management techniques, how to go about chasing client information earlier, the pros and cons of integrated tax software and ditching bad clients.

So, before you get down to organising next year’s self assessment campaign, download the Thomson Reuters guide to find out what to do differently next year.