Is it me or do the ICAEW hate small practitioners?

Is it me or do the ICAEW hate small practitioners?

Didn't find your answer?

I have a client who is refusing to pay me for doing a tax return.

The amount in question is relativly small (£150 plus VAT) when when I said that I would sue him for it, he complained to the ICAEW who are suggesting that it would be better for everyone if I just let it go...

I would love to know of the experiance of others in a small practice in dealing with the fine institution.

Are the ACCA any better for the small practitioner?

Stephen Brown
Stephen Brown

Replies (19)

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By AnonymousUser
04th Aug 2006 11:26

AIA?
Where they stand nowadays?

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Richard Murphy
By Richard Murphy
02nd Aug 2006 09:04

Nigel Burge is right
This happened to me once.

A fee dispute.

A spurious complaint to the ICAEW.

They dismissed the complaint - but their advice was right - walk away and get a better class of client.

Move on - you can't make money from recovering £150 of debt.

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Me!
By nigelburge
02nd Aug 2006 08:38

Seems like good advice to me
You could sue him via the Court Service online but taking into account the fees involved and the aggravation and time involved for only £150, I would personally do as ICAEW suggest and forget about it.

Of course, you don't give any handover info until he does pay up.

£1,500 would be a different matter, but £150 - forget about it and write it off to experience.

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By AnonymousUser
02nd Aug 2006 11:06

Not *quite* the same thing :-)
You don't "just" let the £150 "go". You let it go AND you let the client go. Now, if you are also happy for the ICAEW to write off your £150 debt to them AND let your membership lapse, then you would be comparing like with like.

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By AnonymousUser
02nd Aug 2006 11:06

Spherical objects

Two questions I guess:

(a) Is there a valid complaint about the work done;

(b) is the bill in accordance with the engagement letter / terms of business / contract.

If the answers are No and Yes, then why should you drop it?

If the answers are Yes and No, or a combination then you need to think whether its worth the hassle.

Last autumn a client left my firm for some fairly spurious reasons. We hadn't got as far as the first years accounts, but there had been a lot of help and advice given in set up. I wrote a lot of this off, but billed for what was evidenceable, three meetings (inital two set meetings not billed).

So, of five meetings, they've been billed for three, and they deceide to knock off £70 for one of the meetings.

I could have walked away, but why? The work was done, and the client had a good service even if they didn't appreicate it.

So, its gone through the small claims court, and came to hearing last week.

Adding on interest and credit charges under Late Payment Legislation + court fees, £70 is now £150 and we were in and out of court in 1/2 an hour, with judgement in our favour. Edited highlights of the judges comments:

"Mrs S (ex client) you have no defence to this claim. You never did".

"It seems to me you had very good sevice from the claiment (my firm)"

"The claimant has done far more for you that they were contractually obliged to".

So IMV it all comes down to (a) being sure of your work and (b) making sure your engnagement letter / tob is correct. If these are OK then I would persue the smallest amount, and certainly £150 (which is a decent meal out + bottle or two of plonk if nothing else).

 

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By User deleted
02nd Aug 2006 13:16

Withholding info?
Correct me if I am wrong but do not the Institute state that non-payment of fees are not grounds for refusing to supply reasonable information to suceeding accountants as suggested below. I know most firms adopt this policy but I am not sure the Institute would accept that stance!

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By AnonymousUser
02nd Aug 2006 15:54

I just love
the attitude that £150.00 for a simple tax return is not worth having! What are we talking, 15 minutes to complete with decent software? Probably no need to meet up ... be really generous and call it 2 hours all in. £75 per hour for a sole practitioner ... does it for me every time! All right, I wouldn't want to rely on that sort of work ... but come on guys I know greed is good .. but not since the 80's.

BTW .. money claim on line .. takes 10 minutes to file a claim and 90% will pay long before court.

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By AnonymousUser
02nd Aug 2006 21:30

release of information
ACCA rules permit a lien on all papers etc, subject to contract of course, and subject to law, which makes an exception of those papers falling under S221 Companies Act, and of those company records which are required to be available for public inspection, or to be held in a specified place.
The other ACCA exception to exercise of lien is to provide "reasonable transfer information", which consists of "a copy of the last set of accounts formally approved by the client" and a detailed TB which agrees with those accounts.
As for pursuing it, calculate the interest (12.5%) at http://www.payontime.co.uk/calculator/index_new.html add it to the bill and send a final letter giving 7 days to pay, then proceed to http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/onlineservices/mcol/index.htm and pay £30 to get judgement. Always assuming there is no valid complaint. Should give a good return on your time.

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By martinfoley07
02nd Aug 2006 17:36

ICAEW gave you...
....excellent advice.

Move on, unless you get a rush from dealing with this sort of problem.
I don't mean that offensively, I mean it rationally and very seriously (you should see the lengths I can go to over parking fines of £50 !!! - no way is it financially a rational decision, but ......).

But if a client is being got shot of, or wants to go/not pay etc, and there is a problem with a minor amount, rationally it is not worth pursuing for the potential financial gain (even for 10 minute county court online filing) - so you must be absolutely and ruthlessly clear with yourself that you have a non-financial motive (whatever it be) that makes it worth it.

So to answer your question, IMHO this is example of ICAEW acting in your interests and giving you good advice,amd not an example of them hating small practitioners..

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By nick farrow
02nd Aug 2006 13:38

why is client complaining
how could anyone complain about a bill for £150 from a qualified accountant for completing a tax return - did you make some mistake that cost him money?

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By adam.arca
02nd Aug 2006 14:03

Further to Robert and Andy.....
Personally, I can't agree that the incumbent accountant MUST release info even if not paid.

If that is the case, when did the interpretation change? Certainly, when I was training (admittedly a long time ago), there was no ethical issue to answer in not releasing handover info until paid.

In my Members' Handbook (04/05 version), I've just referred to para 3.2 of statement 1.210 (Fees) and paras 2.0 and 2.1 of statement 1.206 (Co-operation with a Successor) and cannot see how they can be interpreted to say we are under a positive duty to co-operate if we've not been paid (unless there are other extenuating circumstances).

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By carnmores
04th Aug 2006 14:30

Stephen
your arguement is a little weak tho in principle i agree with your sentiment on time charging. yu should note that doing a tax return usually involves

- engagement procedures
- getting all the info from client / previous adviser
- checking previous return
(we do not know exactly what was involved here)
- collating and entering
- getting approved
- submitting and logging
- inform client of any payments due

and others, the point being that it is rarely just the return

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By AnonymousUser
05th Aug 2006 10:37

And then we have breaking of legs.....
My favoured method of dispute resolution has always been physical violence. It is the most profoundly satisfying. As I near 60 I now have to hire it out. You surely don't think that the creditors of the black/nighttime economy use the small claims court.My 3 professional bodies would not approve but that is because they are filled with hand-wringing time-serving puffed-up hypocrites who have never been on a bus or not for 40 years.

Since I was 44 and found I was too old to be employable I have practised as nothing though I have paid my dues. The Law Society is cheapest at #20 p.a. and does provide some services. The ICAEW and CIOT are around #350 and the former does provide some services.But these people are all peripheral to what I do and their services are obtainable elsewhere. It is interesting to speculate whether clients would have been put off if I did not have these qualifications. No client has been put off or dropped me because I am too old.Matron says they may just have been too polite to say.

I love the suggestion of setting the #150 plus VAT against the next sub request.
I operate a blacklist. The trick is not to let it eat you up if you don't get your own back. But I have had a few resounding successes with turning the tables on blacklist members.

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By User deleted
06th Aug 2006 20:59

Ian
You mention "we must file thru the internet, otherwise the tax return is not valid". How come? I sent a computer generated return (PTP) to a client for signing, who then signed and sent to HMRC (well, it saved me a stamp I suppose).

Or are you using HMRC's website?

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By AnonymousUser
04th Aug 2006 18:08

Why can't accountants handle money?
It amazes me that no-one has suggested the most obvious route! Some people advise not to have this small client in the first place!

We ALWAYS tell the client to sign and return to us the tax return with a cheque for payment, telling the client that we must file thru the internet, otherwise the tax return is not valid. They always pay. If small payer, then go over tax return with them, demand a cheque at the time of signing the return, and leave with cheque & signed return which you file when cheque has cleared.
We as accountants who advise businesses should have systems in place to minimise bad debt.

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By User deleted
02nd Aug 2006 13:39

They don't
further to Andy Shady , the icaew will not accept this stance. In their view even if the client hasn't paid, you must still hand over everything

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By User deleted
02nd Aug 2006 10:47

Of course, there's another way . .
You could, as the institute says, simply let it go.

Then next January, you could knock £150 off your payment to the ICAEW, and when they chase you for it, suggest that it would be better for everybody if they simply let it go.

See what they say then!

;-)

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By AnonymousUser
02nd Aug 2006 11:07

ACCA

Oh, and by the way, most of us in the ACCA ask the same question, "are the ICAEW any nicer to small practitioners" - the grass is always greener over the fence.

I couldn't honestly recomend ACCA as a regulator / professional association.

 

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By AnonymousUser
19th Jan 2007 04:30

AIA - where they stand nowadays?
I think they have gone one step further only. They shifted to their new block owned by them.

In the Malaysian front, I wonder if the AIA has been recognised as auditors, in par with the rest of qualifications such as the CPA Australia and the ICAEW.

QUOTE ............
Ai Ling, 04 August 2006 @ 11:26 AM

AIA?
Where they stand nowadays?
........UNQUOTE

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