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Why do we bother?

I'm having an existentialist crisis

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Would you give it up if you could afford to?

I just feel like I'm jumping through one hoop after another and all I do it give bad news to clients.  Tax on dividends. 16.5% flat rate. MTD on the way.  

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20th Feb 2017 19:01

On balance ... no. This job allows me to shout at someone other than my husband. I've just had a row with HMRC who were saying that my client has never been registered for self employment although he's been a taxi driver for years and its been clearly shown on his tax return and he's been paying Class 2. Earlier this afternoon I'd had a row with another HMRC person who was trying to penalise my client for non submission of FPS when the only employee is a director on an annual scheme.
I dont have to commute so I never get ill (I dont get to mix with the 'riff raff' on the tube with all their germs), I can work the hours I want although I could do without the 7 day week, 10 hours a day working in Dec/Jan.
I'm sitting at my desk in my jeans and sweatshirt rather than having to wear a suit. I am looking out of the window at the hills of Dorset rather than the smog of London.
I am not under the thumb of an employer or manager and sometimes...just sometimes... a client says 'thank you' with a bottle of wine or a lunch with no time restraints.

That do you?

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By Sarah P
to Jennifer Adams
20th Feb 2017 19:08

You are right of course. It's been a beautiful day today; I've been working with the windows open watching the hens and squirrels. Son's been upstairs on his PS4 because it's half term. I don't answer to anyone and clients are usually grateful. Some days though I just think it would be nice to retire early and work on the garden.

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By Sarah P
to Jennifer Adams
20th Feb 2017 19:08

You are right of course. It's been a beautiful day today; I've been working with the windows open watching the hens and squirrels. Son's been upstairs on his PS4 because it's half term. I don't answer to anyone and clients are usually grateful. Some days though I just think it would be nice to retire early and work on the garden.

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By Tornado
to Jennifer Adams
22nd Feb 2017 12:59

It might have been a bad day for HMRC then. I too had to get firm with an HMRC representative who clearly did not know what he was talking about and a client had a go at the COT for not being able to tell him why his payments are not allocated to the oldest year first.

HMRC are clearly falling apart and I am starting not to care much. I feel it is just a matter now of sitting back, and watching the decline and then stepping in at the right time to give my clients the appropriate advice.

The people with the real problems now are the Government, HMRC and the software companies. They really need to sort themselves out and pretty quick too.

Time to enjoy the spring weather and see what happens.

EDIT : I saw the client today who had to get firm with the COT and he explained more about his experience in dealing with them. The incompetence in HMRC is appalling with no one in the COT office able to provide answers other than a promise to email someone else who will then contact him within 5 days.

This is getting beyond a joke.

EDIT : Another foul up appears. I cannot say too much but as my approved commercial Tax software would not allow a negative entry in one of the supplementary Tax Return sections (expenses from previous years refunded) I had to add this in as income but explained the problem in the associated white space. As a result of this HMRC took some rather drastic but unnecessary action which surprised me, but now it all becomes clear. It seems that they have only recently looked at the white space explanation (a phone call to me to 'confirm' some details) and realised their mistake.

So we have approved software that is unable to accept all legitimate entries and HMRC incompetence from not checking out the explanatory details provided in the relevant white space.

Why all the MTD rubbish. Surely improving the current Self-Assessment system and training HMRC more extensively would be a much better option. IF MTD is based on software that is inadequate for the job and HMRC staff are confined to the wilderness, then who is going to sort out the mess? (I guarantee that it will NOT be me).

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20th Feb 2017 22:54

I'd give up tomorrow. IR35 changes, flat rate changes, MTD introduction, changes to how landlords are taxed, dividend tax changes, interest changes.

And trying to maintain/obtain clients, maintaining credit control, keeping up to date with software.

So tempted to throw in the towel and sell up!

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to bigmuggsy
21st Feb 2017 09:30

I don't mind change - that's been par for the course ever since 1997. But February's been particularly depressing trying to get clients to pay up. I'm fed up of listening to people who own millions in property and holiday homes telling me they cannot afford to pay.

One property millionaire in particular says he cannot pay the £2k he's owed since December because he's down to his last £6k (which reminded me of Paul Gascoigne, who once announced he was broke because he was down to his last £2m!). Another, worth even more, is strapped because she needs all her cash to complete the house she is bringing to market.

I know how to deal with them - it's just I find it all very time consuming and depressing, and don't like the basic premise that we're in a business where people think it's acceptable to turn out their pockets and plead poverty. They know enough to pay up when they buy petrol or visit a restaurant, but no matter how pleased they profess to be with the results, they're sticky paying accountants.

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By marks
to I'msorryIhaven'taclue
21st Feb 2017 23:56

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

I don't mind change - that's been par for the course ever since 1997. But February's been particularly depressing trying to get clients to pay up. I'm fed up of listening to people who own millions in property and holiday homes telling me they cannot afford to pay.

Its your choice to give them credit. There is nothing that says you have to give credit.

We are in the service industry. When you go to the dentist and have some work done when do you pay your bill (when you are making your next appointment when you are leaving). When you get your car repaired/serviced , when do you pay your bill, when do you pay your bill (when you pick up your car).

So we adopt the same attitude. Nothing gets submitted until the client has paid. In fact most clients pay by monthly DD via GoCardless and have paid their fee in full at they year end.

We have no debtors (in fact currently have about minus £160k debtors on our balance sheet. Hopefully they dont all leave and ask for their money back.

Benefits of doing this

1. More money in your bank account
2. Client doesnt actually "feel" they are paying for your service as the cost is just another monthly DD, much like their rent, insurance etc rather than a big bill once a year
3. Dont have to waste time on credit control
4. Dont have any bad debts. If someone says they want pay annually and after the work has been done i say "jog on and find another accountant who is a mug". Best i will do is the fee needs to be paid in full before is submitted to HMRC/Co House. Once submitted and if they havent paid you have lost leverage for them to pay so why should they pay you any more than anyone else. The fear of a late filing penalty usually results in prompt payment.

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to marks
22nd Feb 2017 09:11

Thanks Mark,
I'm with you on monthly payments, but have a number of longstanding clients, and one or two very recently signed ones, who aren't monthly subscribers. Most are hustlers by nature, who know how to trip systems and make special cases of themselves (with everyone, not just with accountants).

I guess they've worked out that if they arrive last minute at my British Airways desk armed with tales of sick relatives and perceived difficulties then we'll whizz them aboard their flight, and allow them to settle up afterwards. As you may have gathered, I'm rather cross with myself for not being Easyjet.

Minus £160k of debtors on your balance sheet? Time to put up a "No Refunds" sign :)

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By marks
to I'msorryIhaven'taclue
21st Feb 2017 23:59

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

I don't mind change - that's been par for the course ever since 1997. But February's been particularly depressing trying to get clients to pay up. I'm fed up of listening to people who own millions in property and holiday homes telling me they cannot afford to pay.

Its your choice to give them credit. There is nothing that says you have to give credit.

We are in the service industry. When you go to the dentist and have some work done when do you pay your bill (when you are making your next appointment when you are leaving). When you get your car repaired/serviced , when do you pay your bill, when do you pay your bill (when you pick up your car).

So we adopt the same attitude. Nothing gets submitted until the client has paid. In fact most clients pay by monthly DD via GoCardless and have paid their fee in full at they year end.

We have no debtors (in fact currently have about minus £160k debtors on our balance sheet. Hopefully they dont all leave and ask for their money back.

Benefits of doing this

1. More money in your bank account
2. Client doesnt actually "feel" they are paying for your service as the cost is just another monthly DD, much like their rent, insurance etc rather than a big bill once a year
3. Dont have to waste time on credit control
4. Dont have any bad debts. If someone says they want pay annually and after the work has been done i say "jog on and find another accountant who is a mug". Best i will do is the fee needs to be paid in full before is submitted to HMRC/Co House. Once submitted and if they havent paid you have lost leverage for them to pay so why should they pay you any more than anyone else. The fear of a late filing penalty usually results in prompt payment.

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21st Feb 2017 09:15

There have always been changes and there will always be more changes. Sorting them out for clients is what we do.

I've been around a long time and have seen a succession of big changes, including VAT (!), self assessment, stakeholder pensions, RTI, online filing, auto entrolment and now MTD (there must be others that I've forgotten.)

There's the old saying about getting out of the kitchen if you can't stand the heat. It would be an option for me, but the reminder that the garden is waiting keeps me going to work. :-)

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By Tornado
to Cloudcounter
21st Feb 2017 09:40

My thoughts exactly.

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21st Feb 2017 09:18

Someone needs to stand up to Government tyranny.

Tax increases for people Just About Managing and tax deals for wealthy companies.

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21st Feb 2017 09:21

I make as much on the stock market as I do 'doing' accounts' stuff, with the benefit of not bothering with IR35, ML regs, MTD, FPS, AE, VAT, HMRC,clients etc etc.
When my Peruvian gold mining stock becomes a 'ten bagger' I can finally quit (or maybe when the mine in Turkey, or possibly the one in Egypt does...)

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21st Feb 2017 09:25

Think positive - without HMRC being so crass clients wouldn't need us to hold their hands.
If HMRC become efficient well staffed with excellent computer systems then goodbye comfortable income & lifestyles for accountants

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By Tornado
to bernard michael
21st Feb 2017 09:39

"If HMRC become efficient well staffed with excellent computer systems then goodbye comfortable income & lifestyles for accountants"

A novel thought but a bit too far fetched for me.

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21st Feb 2017 09:28

Don't understanding all the moaning and bleating.

Compared to what a lot of our clients do this job is easy. Do an okay job and you've got repeat business year after year.

Want to keep it small and you can work from the comfort of your own home.

Want to be flexible - work the hours you want and from where you want - you're not confined to 9-5 or the UK.

Some people need to suck it up and get on with it.

FFS!!!

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to Kent accountant
21st Feb 2017 09:48

Kent accountant wrote:

Don't understanding all the moaning and bleating.

...

Some people need to suck it up and get on with it.

Sorry, Kent, but the thread is called "Why Do We Bother?" not "Whoopy-doo Another Day at the Office!" I was just rollin' with the theme :)

Time to get out of my sunny conservatory and trundle off to the office in nearby Trumpton - I expect the rush-hour will be over by now. Now, where shall I stop for breakfast this morning?

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21st Feb 2017 09:37

Clients are like dogs. Offer them a bone and they'll grab it.
Insist on some performance before they get the bone like "sit" and they obey. Do the work for the client show it to them and the "sit " order" becomes "pay" before the bone is handed over/submitted/signed etc.
Works every time

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By mrme89
21st Feb 2017 09:52

The prospect of nothing changing in the profession ever would make me change profession.

I couldn't imagine working in a profession up to retirement where nothing has changed since the day I entered the profession. That would depress me.

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to mrme89
22nd Feb 2017 09:50

mrme89 wrote:

The prospect of nothing changing in the profession ever would make me change profession.

I couldn't imagine working in a profession up to retirement where nothing has changed since the day I entered the profession. That would depress me.

I couldn't agree more MrMe

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By DJKL
21st Feb 2017 09:56

Am afraid I am in the retiring camp, there a lot of things I could do if I only had the time, and tax and accountancy does not feature anywhere on the list.

1. The garden

2. DIY projects without being only just at the weekends so completing them stretches to infinity; last summer I built a 4 metre by 4 metre raised deck, if done on weekends it would have taken a month (likely two as I do not have all weekends free- about one in two succumbs to private client work), on holiday it was done and completed in a week.

3. Work on my Scimitar SS1 which is currently sulking in the garage at work looking very sorry for itself. (suspected issue with cylinder head gasket)

4. Fishing, the trout season starts next month/April, for years I have only found the time on one/two days in a year plus when on holiday to fish; what about revisiting my more carefree late teens/early twenties when we roamed around Scotland fishing every weekend. Getting the time to fish Sutherland and Caithness sounds very appealing.

5. Time to lose some weight, the years roll by and the pounds are added, more time to be active and less time to sit at a desk might have me walking the odd Corbett or Munro.

6. A house move out of Edinburgh to a more rural location, maybe 4-5 acres, grow most of our veg, saunter to local pub for lunch etc.

Every so often I do a back of an envelope calculation totting up the houses and the pensions and savings, and try to estimate whether I can afford not to work , then reality strikes;

1. Daughter still finishing degree, it is possible Msc may follow, so city living likely still required plus financial support for a year or two.

2. Son at least in a career, but as back at home saving money needs a roof meantime.

On the positive side other half can start collecting full occupational pension in just under three years, so maybe 2020 should become the target year, one can only live in hope.

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By DJKL
to £££££
21st Feb 2017 15:08

I know, and likely there are only 700-800 left on the road and only the later ones (usually single wiper) had the galvanised chassis (Which mine does) so each year a few more get scrapped/broken for parts.

Scimitarweb http://www.scimitarweb.co.uk/sgwrs/ is a plentiful source re these ugly ducklings, mine is 30 years old this year and only has 60,000 on the clock.

The 1800 turbo version is scarcer and commands a better price, but none of them are yet appreciating that much.

I suspect mine (1600 cvh) is at the £1,200 mark and nearly £200 of that is what I paid for the optional hard top (or colander to use its technical term) and I originally paid £1,500 for the car without the hardtop!

My wife refers to it as my "mid life crisis".

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By tom123
to DJKL
21st Feb 2017 19:16

I used to have shares in Reliant Motor Company!

Did you know that streets in Tamworth where the factory used to be are named after the cars. There is, for example, Regal Way.

Do put a photo up if you can.

I can't remember the last time I saw one. Not sure I ever saw an SST outside of the motor show.

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By DJKL
to tom123
22nd Feb 2017 10:08

Well, here is a decent turbo for sale.

Cheap way of getting some acceleration and have great handling, so ideal if you can put up with the misfitting body panels, ghastly plastic interior and the inability of any soft or hard top to keep out water. On the plus side body does not rust (though bubbles through gel coat pretty common- I have these)

In addition there are a few tweaks re the turbo/ intercoolers/brakes/suspension that can make these seriously fast and it is a great car to work on as really a glorified meccano set

http://www.classiccarshq.co.uk/ads/sale-scimitar-ss1-ti-turbo-1987/

I know you are tempted, the tricky bit is where you hide it from the other half :)

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By Sarah P
21st Feb 2017 12:04

It's all relative - I would rather deal with HMRC than many of my former bosses.

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By SteveRA
21st Feb 2017 13:57

Work part time, I have been doing this for years. Some days I do very little, some full time weeks in January but never after 7pm in the evening. Means I can respond to almost all requests for help immediately, emails polished off on the day they arrive. Sometimes I hold back accounts/tax returns as I have done them too quickly and feel the clients would like to know I slaved over them for at least a week... Pressure is extremely low level and of course there is no 40% tax either!

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to SteveRA
21st Feb 2017 18:19

Sounds wonderful.............if only - unfortunately I have too large a mortgage and office costs to pay for that type of lifestyle but maybe one day!

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