Life is tough on the front line of accountancy. For more than five years, our intrepid correspondent has been bringing us news and views from a typical West Country practice.
HMRC Agents Toolkits - worth a try
I was one of that enthusiastic initial group who had a look at the first three toolkits - and did absolutely NOTHING with them! On reflection I could have shown a little more enthusiasm.
And I will because the current set of nine toolkits - available to download from HMRC website - contains some real gems.
I particularly like the VAT Input Tax checklist which makes a great training tool for junior staff, and you can also print out the checklist itself and give it to clients. It helps make the point that VAT needs some detailed thought because it's so complicated.
I would like to say that I'm going to use these a lot, but let's face it, they are just one more thing to do when you're snowed under and over budget. I get the impression that HMRC would like us to have copies on every file to demonstrate that we have followed their procedures, but I'm afraid it's just not going to happen. If they carry on issuing these toolkits we'll end up with a checklist for everything little thing - they've even got a whole checklist for checking the CT marginal rate calculation! I find a single question checklist for this one usually does the trick: "are we sure there are no associated companies?" I am surprised how often the answer comes back that we're not!
The checklists are particularly good in the links that HMRC have built in, admittedly they are mostly to their own internal manuals, but they give a clear explanation of the issues and we can always follow them up in our own tax reference materials if necessary.
So, good training and refresher material, but I don't think the average general practice is ready for a big tax working paper file with all these checklists on it.