It’s all over!

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That was not a good January at all. As I have mentioned before it was better than all my previous years, it was just not good enough. I just finished my last tax return- time 11:01pm. This is cutting it fine!

There really is no good reason why it should be like this. I need to make it clear to clients that I need the information by a specific date and apply lots of pester power. This would be to the point that it would be less painful for them to hand me the information rather another call from me or my staff.

I was surprised to hear from my partnership client today. He called to say he has received my invoice for 2011/12 tax returns and he thought the fees were very reasonable. That means I could have charged more!  

There is no way I will have the same type of January again. I ate too much, missed my gym and my cold started today. I have not had a cold for years. No, no way will I have a January like this again. Life is just too short. This sort of hassle is just not worth it. 

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31st Jan 2013 23:50


Design a plan for how you are going to ensure it wont happen again.

I think it's difficult to come up with a plan that involves prices for current clients.

You may charge £300 for a small sole trader accounts and tax return. Do you increase the price to £600 with a 50% discount for data by 31/07/13? What happens when they omit some information? OK you can do most of the work but you still have to leave it hanging.

I prefer sending an email in April asking for all data available to date, another email in May, and then weekly phone calls starting in June! Do that for a week and then say that you can't guarantee submitting the tax return if you don't get it by a certain date. I said this a day or two before but it seems madness to clients that you need six months to prepare and submit a tax return.

A client gave me his company data but not personal tax. He needed the company accounts for a reason so I didnt wait for his personal data. Two days ago he emailed me and apologised for not sending it earlier and saying he understood if I couldn't do it and to let him know if I couldn't do it by 31/01/13 so he could ask elsewhere. That part was reasonable of him. I wasn't too bothered about losing the £300 job but his £1,500 company job would be at risk as well! I did the work. Admittedly, I did the work for all of my clients - even the late tiddlers.

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By jem
01st Feb 2013 00:20



So happy its over, I feel like a battery hen that's been shut inside for the last 2 months.  The poor dogs haven't been walked in days, and have had to settle for a 5 minute play in the garden. I don't think I have been to bed before 1 am for the last couple of weeks (2.30 am yesterday).  I am determined to spend more time making sure this never happens again.  I think emailing in April is a great idea and following that up with emails and phone calls.  The other thing that I didn't do this year, was check paperwork thoroughly as it came through the door and sideline jobs that didn't have everything included.  I guess you can only do that if clients bring their papers in on time.  

Tomorrow I am going to switch off the phone and meet a friend for coffee and walk the dogs, light a fire early and crack open a bottle of wine.  

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01st Feb 2013 06:58

More thoughts

Checking paperwork: I know you can maybe find the obvious omissions by checking but until you actually do the work you may not notice what's missing. I suppose you can have a checklist of the main things like all the bank statements and the obvious P60s and bank interest received, etc.

The main problem I have is that I worry that if I am too aggressive chasing people and then don't actually do the work for some of them for months it looks really bad. Other things I've mentioned on FT's blogs are that, with hindsight, most accountants wouldn't have a problem doing the odd (couple of dozen!?) latecomers in January if they had all the other work up to date. I've commented above on how it is easy to give discounts for receiving data earlier but it's still not a perfect system. I think accountants would find it easier to look at themselves - me especially! - by saying we should have a very fast turnaround time. It would be much better to have a few very late nights a month ensuring all work received is dealt with in a day/2 days/week/2 weeks and have a stress free January.

There's my view. I hope I don't become blase come April. Enjoy your day!

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01st Feb 2013 10:13

Worse this year

We had more late arrivals than ever before, but nothing that entailed working overtime. Most of them apologised and promised to get them in earlier next time around, so we will hold onto them for now :)

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By Old Greying Accountant
01st Feb 2013 13:02

Better this year ...

... finished at 11.25, but did coast the last couple of hours as I could see I would make it!

I would say to jem, this year I made a point of finishing at 11pm each night and it worked - going on later than that means you do not rest and do not work as quickly and efficiently and although you think you are doing more work, I think you would find you do more in less time when properly refreshed. the only exception was last night, where it didn't matter how tired I was today.

My biggest thing to organise is dealing with the returns where I deal with the payroll and dividends, often monthly and quarterly routines etc. As the information comes in in dribs and drabs although I have the information to hand it gets left until tomorrow and then suddenly I realise I am running out of tomorrow's. It is much easier to be efficient with these things when a job comes in onca a year and is dealt with as a single process.


This "over-time" must be a northern thing, something to do with Scargill no doubt! We in the enlightened south employ flexible working, so some weeks I may work 60 hours, others I may work 20. I may enjoy a nice sunny morning out with the dog and work in the evening when I am more in the mood. If I am feeling drained or low I will mooch, if feeling invigorated I will work a 14 hour day - the same goes with my subbies, as long as the work gets done in time, doesn't matter when it gets done!

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to Tax Dragon
01st Feb 2013 13:53


Old Greying Accountant wrote:

This "over-time" must be a northern thing, something to do with Scargill no doubt! We in the enlightened south employ flexible working, so some weeks I may work 60 hours, others I may work 20. 

Is this a 'not so subtle' dig at my post?

I am very happy to live among Northerners and it is only your opinion that southerners are 'enlightened'  :)

Who put you in such a foul mood today?

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01st Feb 2013 13:04


I am totally exhausted today.

I am in the office but have not done a thing! I had a 600 calories French Bread Stick. I did not even cycle in today since my cold has got worse.

I am going home to sleep after my 2pm conference call to a client.

Over the weekend I intend to go for a long bike ride, gym, sauna and watch a good movie

I am not getting on the scales on Sunday! 

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By Old Greying Accountant
01st Feb 2013 13:17

To quote Mr Brown ...

... (James, not Gordon!) ...

... I feel good ...

... and the reason, the stick has gone, roll on the carrot at 1.30pm tomorrow in Cardiff as a preliminary to English retention of the Calcutta Cup.

I even hoovered the office this morning!

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01st Feb 2013 14:10

Relatively Stress Free January

For the last 3 years, I have made it clear to client's that the deadline for guaranteed submission of Returns was 1 December and any information received after that date would be done on a "first come - first done" basis once everything received by the deadline had been submitted (and all within a standard 9 to 5 day)

If anyone wanted to "jump the queue" the fee would be doubled to pay for the overtime!

This year I submitted my last return at 4.30 pm on the 31st January!




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By Old Greying Accountant
01st Feb 2013 14:15

@ Shirley ...

... I'm not, did you not click the link - I'm in a good mood, I think the cap is the other head, you seem to be mis-reading my dazzling wit today (or is it t'cap is on t'other head, or is that worse and it should be th'cap on th'other head - can never remember, but I think the former, I am sure Rita always uses the th' not t' ).

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01st Feb 2013 15:14

You're mixed up OGA

I am from Yorkshire, not Lancashire, but as you said earlier ... it's Scargill country :)

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01st Feb 2013 16:23

Tired but happy it's over

The queue in my hall has gone, there's just a couple of VAT jobs that can wait until next week. I'm just a one man band, but filed all my 2012 returns, the last one at 20.00 last night after the client turned up to sign the accounts. As the acknowledgement printed out the cork on the now customary annual bottle of bubbly was popped.

The guy who turned up mid January with literally a large black bin bag full of crumpled receipts was suitably appalled at the bill he got, and deserved. He says he won't be back next year, but knowing him he'll be left touting his bin bag around next January - the competition will either show him the door, or quote him at least a similar price. If I have to be stressed out by the prospect of sorting out a mess like that as the days tick away, I either want paying well, or never to see him again, I'm easy either way.

One thing it proves is that I'm not the only one with the attitude that there's no time like the last minute...





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By jem
01st Feb 2013 21:48


Spent today outside with a  garden fork (accompanied by a collie and two labradoodles).  I can't believe how long a day is when you aren't crashing toward deadlines.  This afternoon after clearing away all of the dead stuff that should have been dealt with in September, I sat and watched the buzzards flying overhead.  Its bliss not to be working so hard.  


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01st Feb 2013 22:37

Yorkshire too.
I'm Yorkshire born and bred and very proud of it ( as we all are ). My husband is actively jealous that he doesn't feel as strongly about his homeland. I don't live in Yorkshire now , I'm down south !!!!!!

I find it interesting that some clients where I am , on hearing my accent for the first time, think I'm going be extremely bossy and sort them out, or, assume I must be really nice, (everyone from yorkshire's really nice!)

Anyway, hideous January and I knew it was going to be . We moved premises in September and had a new computer network with VoIP installed at the same time . Everything that could be a problem was , I think we got a few weeks behind the work . So I'm proud to say we filed everything on time, but next year I will definately be stricter !!!

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02nd Feb 2013 07:23

Sorry FT , I got sidetracked. I too had an awful January , and to be honest, February isn't looking much better . After a few years I'm starting to learn that I really have to be firmer with people . This January has really tested my patience and next year will be different!!

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By fozia
04th Feb 2013 12:11


Worse this year by a long shot, not so much due to the usuall late comers, but all disasters known to man occurred:  Dad in hospital, noro virus, staff off sick, car accident, car battery died, baby sitting because relatives in hospital, house sitting for Mum, freak weather conditions, roof leaking, photocopier broke down twice, broadband and telephone lines down at home so no remote working ... need i say more.  

Is it just me or is the tax return deadline positioned in the wrong month - statistically the worst for bad weather and infections.  

Have made the usuall new tax year resolutions: plan, remind, prompt e.t.c.  But have been doing that for the last few years to little success :(

Oh well, better get on with the loose ends ...


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04th Feb 2013 12:22

in bed most of the weekend

I am still trying to get over my cold. Most of the weekend was spent in bed. 

My flat is a total tip. It was my cleaner's week off. She comes over every other week. Clothes washing only done because I ran out of clothes wear. Only ones left were my thin clothes. There is no way would I fit into those! 

I rolled into the office at 10.30am this morning. This is not good. 

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By Jimess
05th Feb 2013 14:09

S.O.S - Lost Mojo!

Lost - 1 mojo - last seen around 6pm on 31 January. Think it escaped when I opened the door to my office and blinked out into the night. Not seen it since.  If anyone finds it please send it back to me - I just can't get on without it!

First Tab I hope you are soon feeling better.


PS Born and bred in Yorkshire and very proud of it!


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By Old Greying Accountant
06th Feb 2013 12:49

Apologies if i cause offence ...

... but can I have some clarification?

Labouring for many years  under the apprehension Yorkshiremen/women are blunt and direct , can you just explain:

"Born and bred in Yorkshire and very proud of it"

This is far from that: are you saying you are proud of being born and bred in Yorkshire (which is surely more a matter of luck than pride - although if you were born in spring I would check the dates and your parents passports carefully to make sure you weren't actually bred in the Balearics or somewhere similar!); or that you are proud of Yorkshire, which is admirable, or possibly both?

Happy to say my Mojo is in fine fettle, having being nurtured through January as described above, and is currently scampering through the last of the 2012 VAT Returns.

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06th Feb 2013 13:39

pride and love

"are you saying you are proud of being born and bred in Yorkshire (which is surely more a matter of luck than pride)"

luck can play a part in place of birth but not always. I don't see pride being a problem anyway - it's not like we are saying that we have done something to merit it. we are saying we are proud of our background. that doesn't even mean we think we are better than other people we just love yorkshire.


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By Old Greying Accountant
to chatman
06th Feb 2013 14:20

Ah but ...

petersaxton wrote:

luck can play a part in place of birth but not always.

Ah but I was talking the whole package, and if neither parents are from Yorkshire then you have Bob and no as your two hopes, wherever you were born!

I always hold pride comes before a fall and Yorkshire may not reciprocate that pride for all its scions!

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06th Feb 2013 14:27

both parents

Both of my parents were born in Yorkshire - both were born in Hull, even.

That's the thing about unconditional love. We will love Yorkshire no matter what Yorkshire thinks about us.

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By Jimess
06th Feb 2013 17:52

Yorkshire folk

Hull born, bred and bound. I love Yorkshire and it's people.  My other half is not a Yorkshire native and is convinced Hull is where you fall off the end of the Earth. 

Nowt wrong wi t'Ull.   

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to forrest gump
06th Feb 2013 20:30

We think alike, Jimess :)

Jimess wrote:

I love Yorkshire and it's people.

I love Yorkshire and it's people, and consider myself very fortunate to live here.

My husband was born in Yorkshire (and is Yorkshire through and through) but his parents originated from Watford.

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By Old Greying Accountant
07th Feb 2013 00:01

Ah, Hull ....

... scraping into Yorkshire by the grace of the Humber!

I have bad memories of Hull, 1988, traversing the bleak and wind blasted desolation of the Lincolnshire fens in October, and their grim and deadly dykes that draw you in like iron filings to a magnet: Enduring and surviving the perils of that soulless trek only to be pounced upon by the waiting Tigers, not once, but thrice, with no reply - dark days indeed!

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07th Feb 2013 03:57


You support Chelsea?


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By Old Greying Accountant
07th Feb 2013 11:49

One likes to ...

... support ones local team :o)

But these were the days, the golden years of Dixon, Durie up front and stalwarts Clarke and McLoughlin in defence, but sadly post Nevin and after the demise a year earlier of the great Niedzwiecki (one of the greatest in a long line of superhero goal-keepers the club is renowned for). Bouncing back from relegation they romped back to division 1 (as was) on 99 points, 17 clear of Man City in second, with +46 goal difference and 28 goals for Dixon.but sadly and Hull were one of only five defeats, and Hull only just avoided the drop in 21st place (from 24 teams) to division 3, some 42 points below the Blues with a -16 goal difference!

This was in the glory days before Ken Bates sold his soul to the Devil, not only did he lumber us with a Russian megalomaniac numpty but he became Chair of Leeds United, bad enough they are our deadly rivals, but worse, another Yorkshire side! Ironically Leeds finished almost exactly half way between Chelsea and Hull in division 2 that 1988/89 season, in 10th place on 67 points with +9 goal difference.

Funnily enough, there was always strong rivalry with Wednesday back then too, that was a sweet night, that icy 9th February night back in 1994, FA cup 4th round re-play at Hillsborough, after a day number-crunching the long and weary haul on the club special, enduring the soon to be silenced jeers and taunts as we marched under police escort from the station to the ground. the exuberence and elation as the goals flashed in, and the eiry silence that decended over the Spion Kop as the owls stopped hooting and the travelling Shed End raised their voices to the heavens in glorious jubilation. Strangely enough, the 9th of February was a Wednesday that year!

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07th Feb 2013 12:50

Home...Memories ...

it's a funny thing, I have lived in East Anglia for many years now but have still always classed Yorkshire as home. I was born in York (as was all my family), we later moved to the wolds.

The thing i first missed when i moved here was sausage rolls from Cooplands - you got 4 for a £1.00. Here it was 80p for one - I couldn't believe it!

To make matters worse Boyes doesn't exist round here - where do you buy the necessities of life, such as a pair of bellows??

On th 9th February 1994, I wasn't watching football but celebrating my 22nd birthday with friends at The University Of Humberside (Hull Poly!).

It only seems like yesterday .......

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07th Feb 2013 13:07

Maybe we could

start a discussion group about all things Yorkshire where we could drone on about how wonderful it is?

Maybe FT could become an 'onorary Yorkshireman for prompting this diversion?

Then when he gets miserable with life we could say: "Pull yourself together, man, and get on with it!"

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By Jimess
07th Feb 2013 14:19

Scraping into Yorkshire !!!

I nearly choked on my tea when I read that!

I was born a Yorkshire lass and never did embrace the half hearted attempts by the powers that be in the 1970's to create the now defunct Humberside.

The Humber did a great job of keeping the Yeller Bellies and the Yorkies apart for centuries.  The only means of crossing the river was on an old ferry running between Hull Pier and New Holland, and it was always touch and go whether it reached the other side.  We now have the wonderful bridge that provides no real economic benefit to either county, and has been described as the bridge to nowhere in particluar, but in the 70's we all watched it's construction with avid interest - not much on the telly in those days.  I still have photos of when the concrete sections were dangling from the cranes - awww!.  Locals regularly walk over it and back again, run half marathons over it occasionally, have created a nice little park next to it and generally "ooh" and "aah" at the view down the river from it's midpoint on a summers night - just to show willing like.  But at the end of the day we always come home to YORKSHIRE.

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07th Feb 2013 14:31


Where I lived I do remember the change in our county from East Yorkshire to North Humberside, I dont know what happened but someone got sick of us all moaning and about a year later it was back to East Yorkshire - Hurrah!!

(What were they thinking ??)

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By Old Greying Accountant
07th Feb 2013 14:47

It's only sour grapes ...

... my home county of Middlesex only exists on the back of envelopes these days (although it is home to cricket and has the best county side, in my very humble and non biased opinion).

My parents generation voted to join the soft Surrey "southerners", instead of the GLC as was then, where most of the remainder of the Middlesex "northerners" went. Why I know not, and as a grubby kneed urchin, all it seemed to mean was we had to walk past three bus stops to Feltham Borstal so the fare was a thruppenny one instead of a tanner, because only the GLC routes got subsidies! We were under the Met police until recently, but are now under the Surrey police, which is a bugger[***], because if plod was on your tail you used to be able to lose them you crossed the river on the way home.

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