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What can I do if accountant filed an incorrect SA?

What can I do if accountant filed an incorrect SA?

A friend has used the same accountant for years because he claims to understand the holiday letting business. She know how much her total (low) income was and how much her outgoings were, and did not expect a tax bill. She was shocked when told it would be £3000 and queried this with his assistant who said she knew about her return and could answer, but she obviously did not know anything. When the accountant looked at it, he found a couple of things and blamed it on 'SA overload!' but it still does not answer the question. He had to file to meet the deadline, and she is now faced with a demand for £1200. He also said she MUST pay £1600 on account, yet I know that is optional. 

She doesn't have the cash because she didn't think she needed it. His advice has been disastrous for her, yet he is demanding his fee. She hopes he has filed a provisional return, but I doubt it.

What can she do in these circumstances to query, and if required, vary her SA return? Can she query his bill?

I have recommended she changes accountant at the very least.



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04th Feb 2013 17:19

She has one year ...

to amend her return.

By the way ... she is meant to check it before she signs it not moan once she gets a bill she doesn't like. If your reply is going to be along the lines of  ... she relied on him to get it right then how would you know now that it is wrong? I'm afraid you won't get a lot of sympathy here as your freind sounds like the sort of client we all spend a lot of time getting rid of!


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to JasonRodwell
05th Feb 2013 17:39


Steve Holloway wrote:

By the way ... she is meant to check it before she signs it not moan once she gets a bill she doesn't like. If your reply is going to be along the lines of  ... she relied on him to get it right then how would you know now that it is wrong? I'm afraid you won't get a lot of sympathy here as your freind sounds like the sort of client we all spend a lot of time getting rid of!

If a client is asked in writing to look through their tax return and simply can't be bothered, then they must bear some of the responsibility for it being wrong.

I have has a few of these in my time - although they have all been regarding omitted income being discovered some time later due to the client not actually telling me in the first place - and the client's response of trying to blame their accountant when it is entirely their fault is regrettably not uncommon.

My response in these cases is to suggest (well tell!!) the client goes elsewhere and breathe a sigh of relief when they do. They are invariably trouble and will do it again and again because they can't be ars*d,

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04th Feb 2013 17:23

Get a new accountant ASAP to submit an amended return with the correct figures. In the meantime, I'd phone HMRC and advise them that the return is going to be re-submitted.

If the outgoing accountant made such mistakes, either refuse to pay or pay what you deem reasonable and invite him to initiate court proceedings which you will defend vigorously.

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04th Feb 2013 17:26

My post crossed with Steve's - in hindsight why did your friend sign the return ?

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04th Feb 2013 17:44


These are not 'optional'. Advise your friend that interest will be charged for POA payments that are overdue.

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04th Feb 2013 17:56


When did she give him her information?

When did he give her draft figures?

When did she discuss them with him?

When did she sign her return?

When we know these dates we will understand more about the problem.

As Steve says amended figures can be filed at any point up to midnight on 31 January 2014, but until they are the balance for the year and the PoAs are due.


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By ACDWebb
04th Feb 2013 22:43

Q:What can I do if accountant filed an incorrect SA?

A: If it's wrong, which sounds likely if he has agreed "due to SA Overload", then get it amended to the correct figures ASAP.

Sounds like any error(s) have been identified, so that may have been done already? If so and presumably electronically, then HMRC systems should update to the correct figures within a couple of days.

If she has been told the revised figures then pay them ASAP (if not already done) to stop any interest accruing. Once the amended return proceses with HMRC any interest charged will be recalculated to the revised & reduced liability, so there's no reason not to pay the reduced amount now.

SA Overload would tend to suggest last minute information provided and all done in a rush with a view to "helping" the client avoid the £100 penalty despite the lateness. But as above the ultimate responsibility for the return is your friends. Was she not told what the liability was when she got the return to check and did she not query it then?.

Are you certain that all the outgoings are allowable for tax? Just a thought, but possibly there were expenses that are actually capital rather than income deductions that could mess up expectations.

Not so sure that getting a new accountant to do the work again is necessarily a wise suggestion as that has the potential to increase costs for the year. If the current chap has recognised some errors in the return as originally submitted and your friend is happier with the revised figures as an overall outcome more in line with expectations then get him to submit the amendment. Whether she feels that the errors, and reasons for them - with possibly extenuating circumstances if for example the information was only provided to do the return during January - are sufficient to make her look elsewhere for assistance for the 12/13 return is another matter. Similar consideration would also apply to refusing to pay, or paying what she deemed reasonable. There are,after all, two sides to every tale.

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05th Feb 2013 07:36

I agree with ACDWebb

It was a similar event that made me change our procedures. We now close down between Xmas & the New Year, and have a fairly relaxed January.

We used to be overloaded with work in January, and I made a couple of mistakes on SA's, which were discovered during the sign off process. I apologised profusely and made the amendments, but this experience added more work and more stress.

Tiredness & stress isn't good for us, and isn't good for the clients either, if they are not getting good service.


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07th Feb 2013 19:53

SA breakdown

From what I've read it appear to have been readily pushed this back on the taxpayer, and yes I agree in this case the requirement is for client sign off yet knowledge of the calculated tax liability from the return now appears to be mistaken or misunderstood.  We are all human, we make mistakes; more when under pressure.  I've addressed this to the OP's friend: This simple answer here is to make an appointment with your accountant to have an amended return submitted, and ensure you completely understand what is calculated to be your tax liability & how it is derived.  If you are still scarred by the experience, then change accountant; if you are happy to continue your longstanding relationship may I suggest you have your books and records compiled in the summer and submitted nice & early to HMRC in order to avoid any repeat incident.  When you do see your return, make sure you understand it and discuss the calculation plus timing of any payments with your accountant - this is the service you are paying for, after all.

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07th Feb 2013 21:33

Devil's advocate

I think some of the comments here are slightly harsh. After all, the reason we are hired to do basic tax returns by the public is because the public struggles to do it themselves and they need help. While I have every sympathy with those who have clients that can't get there head around why they have to pay tax and why you can make it "go away".

I always try to explain to the client what they are liable for in terms of tax and explain, the best I can, why this is. Any accountant that just asks a client to sign a TR without any explanation doesn't sound on top of their game.

But this is with the benefit of hindsight. As advised, get onto HMRC, explain whats happened and get a new bean counter!

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