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Specialist tax work outsourcing

We would be interested to know what others, in small practice, do when they need complex / specialist tax advice for clients beyond what they can provide themselves.   

We've looked at options of referring the client directly to a third party.  We have done this and just passed the work over without requesting a percentage of the fee or an introduction fee.   We've also looked into taking outside advice but not actually informing the client that this advice has come from elsewhere but this involves passing on of information and going to and fro with questions which is not ideal

What others do would be helpful to know and also any recommendations of specialist tax advisors appreciated.

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By Matrix
10th Feb 2019 08:13

I have used our fee protection advisors to provide written advice or review my advice in the past.

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10th Feb 2019 09:43

I have been both referrer and referree (referee?) in such situations. No-one, to my knowledge, charged any kind of introduction fee.

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10th Feb 2019 09:58

I've just signed up for a year to Croner's tax advice service. The charge of £1,000 is based on how many clients I have and is ostensibly about signing them up for tax investigation work cover. However, none of my clients will go for this.
I've found the advice worth every penny.
Croner have an option for referring clients if necessary, and I will use that if I need to, but not likely to be required for my small clients.
I will refer clients for R & D claims to outside companies.

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10th Feb 2019 11:28

Pay it forward. As a specialist US tax practice, we frequently refer work to other advisers. We do not ask and have never asked for an introduction fee or commission.

In return we are frequently referred US tax work by several UK accountants and tax advisers. I find if we are good to others in our profession that they are equally good to refer work back to us when appropriate.

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to David Treitel
10th Feb 2019 18:29

Absolutely agree with you David.

Also means that you refer people to advisers that you genuinely trust and respect and the clients appreciate that you are doing this in their best interests rather than for any financial incentive.

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By DJKL
10th Feb 2019 13:08

Explain to client what is needed and why the third party firm is needed, client will hopefully recognise your honesty, that you are looking after his/her interests by taking their planning out to an expert, the same way I respect solicitors when they suggest we take Counsel's opinion, as from time to time we do (though never about tax)

Explain to client your role in process, be it information collector , whatever, your role may even be interpreter though most really good specialists often have a way of making the complex simple for the layman.

Modify your fees down to your client because you are in effect receiving some free CPD which will often be extremely valuable, do not undervalue the experience.

I suspect I have learned far more about certain aspects of taxation observing fellow professionals than I ever have reading textbooks and commentaries, I can really recommend the experience with the right sort of firm

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By marks
10th Feb 2019 13:47

We have a few different things

1. We have access to TaxWise and ICPA tax helplines for queries we deal with direct.

2. More specific matters we a qualified CIOT and a VAT expert we past things too.

3. If specific tax matters like Capital Allowances, R&D, etc we have a network of specialist tax companies we pass these too.

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11th Feb 2019 10:02

I often sub out stuff I dont know enough about.

I will always tell the client its outside of my area, and explain the extra costs involved. It normally makes me look like a bargain. I never charge for my time to arrange external advice, so I might lose an hour or two setting it up, but the client gets better advice, and I avoid fudging it and taking a risk of giving poor advice.

I don't ask for a cut or claw back, the types fo firms who offer this type of thing tend to view your practice as the customer so wont be interested in 'pinching' the compliance work.

Just explain its like your GP, they don't know all about all fields of medicine as its too vast, but they do know when its time to refer a patient to a specialist who does this sort of thing all day.

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11th Feb 2019 10:15

We use the ICAEW tax helpline, which costs a few hundred a year for what I refer to as basic-plus questions - where we need clarification, or where there is a large amount of tax at risk or simply to ensure we haven't missed anything.

Any bigger pieces of work, about 6 years ago I met with a local firm who have a tax department. They provide my clients with a free initial interview and follow up with a quote - they don't poach clients and they sign clients up for that particular engagement. I am sure they would help me with my basic-plus questions too but I would not like to feel in their pockets all the time. We have never asked for a fee for this nor do I want one - I want to offer the correct service to a client rather that it in any way be seen as a money making exercise.

I also, like others, explain that I am like a GP and sometimes a referral is needed for specialist advice.

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