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Providing tax services after AAT

Questions about steps going from AAT to providing tax services

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Hello,

Firstly apologies for the long post, and thanks to anyone who reads it all!

I'm currently studying my level 4 AAT qualifiation and having completed the tax modules I've decided it's something that I might be interested in pursuing in the future, however I'm looking for some clarity / advice on what the requirements are for providing services such as self-assessment for personal returns (at least to start with). I'd appreciate it if anyone is able to answer one more of the below please! Disclaimer: I'm aware that tax is a very complicated subject and this isn't something I'm jumping into now, I'm just wondering how best to proceed.

1) Do many people go it alone or are tax services normally provided by practices?

2) In terms of training post-AAT is there some other qualification more tax-specific which I should be looking into? The only one I can find is CIOT, but I don't know if it's something which is useful, nice to have or a waste of time.

3) Are tax returns normally done in person or remotely? There appear to be lots of generic websites which offer to do returns for you and from a technical point of view I can't see why that would be an issue, but in the 'real world' do sole-trader tax return provides tend to work more directly with clients?

4) According to AAT membership guidelines you can't offer personal tax services unless you're a fully registered member, however from what I can see HMRC allows you to be an agent providing you have Money Laundering supervision. Obviously you can get this from AAT as a full member but you can also pay for it yourself. If I was able to get relevant work experience to the point where I was happy to go it alone do I have to be MAAT? Are you able to get PI insurance without being part of an approved body?

5) Does anyone have any recommendations as to where I can go to find out more about this sort of career? The advice from AAT is all rather generalised across a wide range of accountancy areas.

Thanks

Replies (14)

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By penelope pitstop
09th Jan 2020 00:08

If you do a sole trader set of accounts who has no other income, you will probably find that 95% or more of your time is spent getting the accounts done and dusted.

The other 5% or less is spent then adjusting the accounts for tax purposes to fit it into the sole trader's tax return.

Have just been looking at an HMRC-generated tax return for 2017/18 dealt with by a deceased accountant. It is giving me eyeball-ache just looking at it (but free to use - no thank you).

I think you will find in sharp contrast that completing a tax return using Taxcalc tax return software is an absolute doddle. It also stops you (most times) making stupid mistakes.

But giving tax services could be dangerous. From experience I would suggest that spending at least a whole year in a tax department of an accountancy firm is a must, unless you are an absolute tax genius which I doubt you are.

A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing in the world of tax.

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Replying to penelope pitstop:
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By Bertiee
09th Jan 2020 01:25

penelope pitstop wrote:

If you do a sole trader set of accounts who has no other income, you will probably find that 95% or more of your time is spent getting the accounts done and dusted.

Interesting to know, although leads onto a follow up question (due to my lack of 'real world' knowledge). Based on my understanding the preparation of the accounts would be done by a bookkeeper - is this not the case or does it depend on the client?

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Replying to Bertiee:
By johngroganjga
09th Jan 2020 08:31

A bookkeeper is someone who keeps books. An accountant is someone who prepares accounts from the information in the books kept by the bookkeepers.

Bookkeepers, as bookkeepers, don't prepare accounts.

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By Accountant A
09th Jan 2020 00:44

Top tip: January is the busiest time of year for many/most accountants in practice so you might get more response if you come back in February.

In the meanwhile, use the forum search function. There are regular questions from posters seeking career advice.

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Replying to Accountant A:
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By Bertiee
09th Jan 2020 01:25

Accountant A wrote:

Top tip: January is the busiest time of year for many/most accountants in practice so you might get more response if you come back in February.

In the meanwhile, use the forum search function. There are regular questions from posters seeking career advice.

Thanks, useful to know. I did try the search function but unfortunately 'tax' and 'self-employed' are a little too generic! However after your post it occured to me to search for 'agent' and I've found an answer to my money laundering supervision question so that one can be ignored now.

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Replying to Bertiee:
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By JoF
09th Jan 2020 10:50

I think you need to revisit this one.

AAT do not give practice licences out to folk who have didly squat experience, for a very good reason. Do you have any experience? If not I would seriously consider what the folk below have suggested as AAT alone does not prepare you in any shape or form for doing tax, not even VAT is that indepth.

Without the AAT licence you cannot then be an Accountant sole practioner using someone else's supervision (HMRC in this case) and then claim to be AAT (even in your email signature, because that is misleading the public). Even if you become a full member. In fact even to become a licenced bookkeeper with AAT (AATQB MIP) you need experience.

Take a look at ATT. I do not understand why anyone would think a chartered qualification would be a waste of time, certainly if you really want to do tax this would be an ideal one for you to do alongside getting some real world experience. Be careful who you get that experience with (you need someone who can sign off a training plan in line with the prof body you go with).

If you intend to do ATT or Coit you may fall foul of their regulations, as well as AAT's by using HMRC (or other lower organisation) for your 'MIP' cover.

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Replying to Bertiee:
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By JoF
09th Jan 2020 11:39

Duplicate. My PC is playing up!

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Replying to JoF:
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By Bertiee
09th Jan 2020 12:42

Thanks for the clarification on supervision and the tip about ATT - I hadn't heard of them before

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Replying to Bertiee:
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By JoF
09th Jan 2020 11:39

Triplicate. Bloody PC!

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By ospevack
09th Jan 2020 09:41

Your best route is to look for a job in practice, and all of your questions will be covered whilst you gain the practical experience you need for AAT membership, and practicing certificate.

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Caroline
By accountantccole
09th Jan 2020 09:52

I'd recommend working in practice first, develop other skills like marketing and making sure you understand all the different compliance aspects.

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By WhiteRose
09th Jan 2020 09:55

Would strongly advise you get some experience in practice, very few tax returns are completely straightforward, there’s always something you need to ask or check and unless you have some experience you won’t know the right questions to ask. Why not MAAT? The AAT also run sessions on working for yourself which you might find useful. Other tax qualifications to go for: ATT would be a good fit.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
09th Jan 2020 11:14

If oyu are going to offer tax services you need to learn how to do it properly. ie be able to not only read tax legislation and tax notices, but know the case law behind it and the normal practices, and more importantly know when you need to look it up. The best way for this is to work with someone who is willing to teach you about it. Assuming you are smart, it will take you at least 3-5 years to get the basics, and then a lifetime to finesse it.

The world is littered with bad tax advice and people who don't know enough to not know what we are missing.

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By Bertiee
09th Jan 2020 12:53

Thank you to everyone who has replied, it's all been very useful information. Appears than experience is the key ingredient regardless of any questions I have at the moment so I'll work on that and see how things are going in a year or two.

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