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Error in 11-12 return done by previous accountant, do we have to offer them to correct or can I do and client reclaim cost

Error in 11-12 return done by previous...

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I am currently compiling a new client's SA100 for 12-13 when I noticed three errors in last year's return prepared by a different firm.

The result is that he is now due a refund of £2,100 when it is corrected. As I could do it very easily and quickly I'd rather correct it and charge a fairly small £150 for doing so. Do we have to give the original accountant the opportunity to correct it free of charge or can I re-do it and ask the client to approach them for a refund. (My fee would be less than they originally charged to do the return).

The errors are basic, such as wrong date of birth (his wife's!), claiming 10% wear and tear on an unfurnished property and the biggie, not entering pension contributions paid. He is a £110-115k earner so in the effective 60% rate so this is what is leading to the £2k overpaid.

I would rather not get involved in argy bargy with another local firm (both ICAEW) as we are all human but they clearly had a junior do the return and not properly reviewed.

So can I just do it or should we contact the old firm and ask them to correct or refund? Presumably it should be the client who contacts them rather than me?

Thanks for advice

Replies (12)

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Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
07th Dec 2013 10:38

Up to the client

Ask him whether he would prefer to pay you £150 to file an amended return and get a refund of £2,100 or to ask his previous accountant to file an amended return for last year for an ex-client for free in the rush that most of us face coming up to the 31st January deadline.

I would say it is a no brainer, but leave it to the client.

Incidentally, how does the wife's date of birth affect the tax payable?

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By Luke
07th Dec 2013 12:53

Thanks Euan. Wife's date of birth
Would of course have no effect on the tax payable but it is sloppy to get it wrong.

Otherwise do you think the old accountant would reimburse costs for correcting errors?

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By mikeyban
07th Dec 2013 13:23

In my experience amend and charge a fee.... Everybody then moves on!

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By tonyh
07th Dec 2013 13:52


Telephone him 

Hi Joe,

Thanks for hand over info,just noticed a couple of problems do you want me to sort them or will you ?

This acts as an insurance for when they take one of your clients and they find an error in what you have done.

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By Luke
07th Dec 2013 14:10

Thanks all
I don't know the old accountant personally otherwise a phone call would be a good idea.

I think I'll just go with the "I can re-do last year charge you £150 and you'll get back £2k, that sound good?" to the client. Just seems wrong that they have paid for a wrong return that could well have cost them £2k if I hadn't spotted it.

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By tonyh
07th Dec 2013 15:56


Problem is when you tell client why you have to charge him extra he may want to take action against Previous accountant.

Legally I think that you have to give other firm chance to correct.

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By dbowleracca
07th Dec 2013 22:00

There may be a reason why this has happened
I would call them and say you have taken over acting for mr x, and noticed the following, can they shed any light on the situation? Did they know he had pension contributions?

We all make mistakes, and I agree if they ever find one of yours, if you make one and they take over a client, they will treat you equally respectfully.

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By Mouse007
08th Dec 2013 00:23

for a paltry £150 ?

Get a grip


Just Nike (do) it



Me, I'd charge £400 and tell client "for correcting" last year's return and getting you £2,000 refund.


Leave it to him to worry about ex agent and believe how wonderful you are.

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By SimonP
08th Dec 2013 04:28

But who exactly is to blame?

First of all, there is an assumption here that the previous accountant has erred, which is not necessarily the case.

Personally, I am quite pedantic when requesting and obtaining information but if the client provides wrong info or perhaps none at all, that is hardly the accountant's fault.

I'm not defending the previous accountant, just pointing out that the errors may not be their fault.

Secondly, once the tax return has been completed, the client is asked to look it over and approve it.

If he signs it without checking it, that's down to him. I love it when clients ask questions about what's in the return as it proves that they've read it and all my hard work hasn't been wasted.

Quite obviously none of the readers, apart from the poster, has all the facts, therefore none of us should be sitting in judgement nor offering opinions.

So basically, having been in this position a few times over the years, the simple thing to do is to pick up the telephone and speak to your predecessors. It would probably take less time on the phone than posting a query on AccountingWeb. If it really is their mistake, they may well offer to correct it for you to file as they are no longer authorised to act for their ex-client.


In summary: Pick up the phone and charge the client. Next?

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By rayhelmke
10th Dec 2013 11:10


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By pauljohnston
10th Dec 2013 11:12

Go with mouse's Suggestion

Just tell the client that you have found some minor errors in last years tax return and that you have corrected them.  "Oh and by the way this will mean a refind of £2k".  II attach my acccount for the work involved.  Happy Christmas

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10th Dec 2013 12:44

but is it...

Are you sure of your facts ... Is it a works pension (deducted from PAYE, no need to go on the SA) or private pension (go on the SA) ... I agree with SimonP, Accountant requests information, client gives it AND client checks and signs their return before submission then they must take responsibility, but it looks good for you as a new Accountant spotting a big refund...

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