88 year old not responding - help appreciated

88 year old not responding - help appreciated

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I have an 88 year old client who I only contact once a year to deal with his tax returns. This year I not been able to get any response at all, he may be in hospital, on holiday with his children (all of whom are in California), or simply not well enough to answer the phone or mail.

I do not have any emergency contact details at all. His wife is/was in a nursing home near him in London with severe dementia, but I do not know the name of the home.

If I do nothing he will start incurring self-assessment penalties, which would be annoying. 

So this is my predicament. What action can I take at this stage?

Replies (11)

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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
24th Jan 2016 13:56

Nothing
I can't see what you can do other than try to contact him through your usual channels. It sounds like you have already done everything that you reasonably can for the moment.

If he chooses not to respond or is unable to do so because he is in hospital or even dead (not unrealistic for an 88 year old) then so be it.

If he incurs penalties and has a reasonable excuse for not filing the return then you can appeal against them.

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By bernard michael
25th Jan 2016 09:29

Try contacting

His next door neighbours - normally they'll know

Or 

The local authority to see if he's in care

His local church/pub/golf club//working men's club/undertakers/solicitors/local postman or even accountants in case he's forgotten who you are and picked one at random

 

If all the above don't work have a nice holiday you did your best

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By cheekychappy
25th Jan 2016 09:55

Do nothing

If the client, or someone acting on behalf of your client needs you, they will find you.

You're an accountant, not a detective.

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Replying to Tri622:
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By bernard michael
25th Jan 2016 10:27

I'm sure you don't mean this the way it sounds

cheekychappy wrote:

If the client, or someone acting on behalf of your client needs you, they will find you.

You're an accountant, not a detective.

Harsh !!

I'm glad to see the OP has the compassion to try and find the client. Old age will come to us all even accountants and we might need community spirit and professionals who don't just treat us as a profit centre

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By cheekychappy
25th Jan 2016 10:49

Realistic

bernard michael wrote:

cheekychappy wrote:

If the client, or someone acting on behalf of your client needs you, they will find you.

You're an accountant, not a detective.

Harsh !!

I'm glad to see the OP has the compassion to try and find the client. Old age will come to us all even accountants and we might need community spirit and professionals who don't just treat us as a profit centre

 

The OP has already tried usual methods of communication.

Do you expect the OP to search the obituaries, perhaps turn up at the funeral and ask the relatives who the executor is?

 

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Replying to User deleted:
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By bernard michael
25th Jan 2016 10:57

Usual methods??

cheekychappy wrote:

bernard michael wrote:

cheekychappy wrote:

If the client, or someone acting on behalf of your client needs you, they will find you.

You're an accountant, not a detective.

Harsh !!

I'm glad to see the OP has the compassion to try and find the client. Old age will come to us all even accountants and we might need community spirit and professionals who don't just treat us as a profit centre

 

The OP has already tried usual methods of communication.

Do you expect the OP to search the obituaries, perhaps turn up at the funeral and ask the relatives who the executor is?

 

 

The OP is seeking our advice on what to do. Apart from the "annual contact" it's not clear what methods he has tried if any

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By Intellex
25th Jan 2016 10:39

Ouija board?

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By cheekychappy
25th Jan 2016 11:01

Given that the OP says "simply not well enough to answer the phone or mail", one would assume the OP has tried these methods of communication.

I know the OP is seeking our advice on what to do. Just because my advice differs from yours does not make my advice redundant.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By bernard michael
25th Jan 2016 11:19

I agree

cheekychappy wrote:

Given that the OP says "simply not well enough to answer the phone or mail", one would assume the OP has tried these methods of communication.

I know the OP is seeking our advice on what to do. Just because my advice differs from yours does not make my advice redundant.

You're absolutely correct. I need new glasses and am probably feeling my age ( younger than 88) and starting to rant regularly

 

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By Roland195
25th Jan 2016 11:08

Estimate

I find myself in the same position unfortunately regularly.

Have you considered estimating the return based on previous years and the information you have available - tax codes, state pension etc then send to him with a letter saying if you don't hear from him by 31st you will take this as authorisation to file?

This may be preferable to playing penalty roulette at a later date.  

 

 

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
Portia profile image
By Portia Nina Levin
25th Jan 2016 11:15

Please do not tak this advice

Roland195 wrote:

I find myself in the same position unfortunately regularly.

Have you considered estimating the return based on previous years and the information you have available - tax codes, state pension etc then send to him with a letter saying if you don't hear from him by 31st you will take this as authorisation to file?

This may be preferable to playing penalty roulette at a later date.  

This is a "fast track" to HMRC's "bad agent" list. It is called "just making stuff up", and, on recent empyrical evidence, can earn you 6 years. Think about ALL of your clients, and yourself.

As was stated early on, if this unusual behaviour for the individual concerned, there is probably a reasonable excuse lurking. If this is usual behaviour, then the client must face the consequences.

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