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The end of the small practice? Cancel Accountex visit due to train strike?

28th Apr 2016
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Things are hotting up with the new HMRC digital quarterly accounting/billing system. I see that Receipt Bank have fired the first broadside and issued a new App by which you can scan paper receipts and send direct to HMRC's computer bypassing the accountant. 

I am obviously not worried about my non computerised clients leaving or my clients who currently dont have time to do anything so mundane as preparing accounts (I will have to get my systems more up to date) as they will leave it all to me but I am worried about the more lucrative computer savvy clients. I think it will all depend on the cost of these new Apps and apparently HMRC will be issuing free ones. If I can do the work of accounts and tax return and give advice for just a bit more or the same as for the cost of the monthly App they will stay.

But I have clients who actually create websites for a living - they will leave. Landlords are nearly all computer/smart phone savvy so they will leave. The larger accounting firms who already have larger sole/partnership trader firms as clients will stay with those firms and those accountants will not feel too much hardship except possibly they might get rid of bookkeeping staff (I wonder what the Institute of Bookkeepers are thinking?)

A client of mine who has people working on a contract/ consultancy basis and for whom she pays expenses tried one of the Apps that are currently on the market and announced it to be no good - couldnt read the receipt unless very clear. Obviously the accuracy of technology will change.

A number of Accweb members use Receipt bank but when I made contact with the company last year they said they dont deal with bags of receipts which is what I thought they did. Their website is not clear as to how their process works and their announcement of the App is stuck down the bottom of the page. It looks as though I'm going to have to buy Quick Books if I go with them. Sage are looking to create an App (I dont use Sage for my clients although I know how it works). Accountants who are already using Receipt bank will obviously be given a discount to use this new App. But it still costs and my clients wont take kindly to higher bills but then I suppose if it saves my time...... 

I can only think that the accounting firms that will be hit will be the smaller one man band firms. I notice that a number of the what -shall-we-say - more 'mature accountants' have already commented that they will be selling up which does, at least, bring expansion opportunities for the others of us that will try to weather the storm that is coming.

I've not said a thing to any of my clients but if we are to get them all onto computerised systems then we should be consulted more than we currently have been- but that is a pipe dream. I understand that there will be an HMRC consultation document published in the next few weeks explaining more but it is a bit late for that - the system is in place. Apart from Receipt Banks' new App we really dont know how HMRC (sorry ... wrong 'person' - George Osborne (as according to Taxcalc this system is coming from higher up the chain) envisages how the new system will work apart from HMRC pulling together accounts on a quarterly basis and potentially demanding quarterly payments the same as currently for VAT returns. I saw a question posted on Any Answers a few days ago asking members what they are telling clients but there was only one response saying 'nothing - wait and see'. 

I already have my train ticket booked for 11 May Accountex and it was there that I was going to view Receipt Bank questioning the salesmen again (and now ask re its new App) as I would think many other accountants will be but there is going to be a train strike all that week! Not on my line but it will mean that those affects will be trying to get to London using other lines.

Its Friday before the Bank Hol Monday - maybe I'm being too pessimistic? Please tell whether you have said anything to your clients and whether you are putting new procedures into place or are you also waiting.

Replies (6)

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Stephen Quay
By squay
28th Apr 2016 14:32


I'm sorry to hear about the train strikes during Accountex as I wasn't aware although Southern is not our region. Were coming up from the SW by coach and we have a hotel booked for a couple of nights so I'm hoping it won't affect us. Hope the buses, tube and DLR don't strike as well. 

Can't understand how Receipt Bank get so much praise. We have a couple of clients using it and we were invited in as agents. Looks complicated. The transfers to Xero always have errors with the VAT. When I phoned Receipt Bank for guidance they refused to help us as we weren't paying customers - only agents. Such a terrible attitude that I will discredit them when ever I get the chance.

Looking forward to Accountex again. This year we'll be checking out add-on suppliers, alternatives to Xero and pensions for auto enrolment. Hey Ho, never a dull moment being an accountant :-).

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By Old Greying Accountant
28th Apr 2016 16:06

I just worry ...

... about the human rights issues.

Surely expecting tax payers to send documentary evidence (rather than headline figures) of every transaction to HMRC is a serious breach or the right to privacy and quiet enjoyment etc.

Fair enough require evidence to be kept but to pass to HMRC as a matter of routine is to me unacceptable. 

Has anyone considered how the internet will cope with what will be eye watering volumes of data flying around.

With any luck Osborne will be gone by July if the country has any sense and votes leave!

Thanks (1)
By Jim100
28th Apr 2016 23:45


I agree it does look bleak for those clients who are Tech savvy.  However it may take for them to realise how easy it is  - I bet some of them could easily complete a self assessment return now 

I think the high street accountant will start to see a drift as price of a tax return will be a factor too.  It may create an opportunity to train clients and organise them. 

Some will leave but sure something will come along to keep the work ticking by.  I have already start planning a few things that will keep my head above water.  I know I will never make a lucrative living from accountancy due to MTD and competition but as long as it keeps me busy and earn a fair amount then I am happy.  I guess there are other more important things in life to worry about than MTD.  


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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
03rd May 2016 16:36

Just to clarify about 1Tap - Receipt Bank was very clear on the point that the free app will suck up receipt data, but it will only feed it to an accountant using Receipt Bank.
The expenses will then be processed internally and submitted on the client's behalf to HMRC. Have a look at what Receipt Bank CTO Michael Wood said here:
That's not to say that other developers may be working on apps that will cut accountants out of the loop - but it would be unfair to hang the blame for their plans on Receipt Bank.

Thanks (2)
By Lone Wolf
03rd May 2016 17:32

I also think we should "wait and see", The first year this rolls out fully I think we will have our hands full with those clients who leave and totally screw up their accounts. They will be on the phone asking for help. I see too many problems with HMRC's plans. Hang in and weather the first rush.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
04th May 2016 23:35

Don't sell yourself short.

Remember HMRC tools are available to people to self file now but how many actually do, in the someway I am able to paint my front room but I choose to pay a painter to do it.

`TBH i think small firms will respond to it well as if your a sole trader you don't have to agree things with anyone else.

As current year ends are expiring I am encouraging people to sign up to basic cloud software this year so far with 100% success i am aiming to have to 80% of clients with appropriate system in 2016, and work on the remaining 20% in 2017. I imagine it would be harder implementing change if you were in 3 or 4 partner firm where it was not so easy to reach agreement on things.

Whats the crack with train strike I had not heard anything about it are Virgin still running?

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