The return of brown envelope season

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A quick survey of Any Answers questions last month suggest that practitioners turn their attention to old fashioned accounting during the quieter months of late summer - at least until the penalty notices start turning up towards the end of August.

The announcement Wheee - it’s penalty time again came from one of our members responding to the “usual spate of penalty notices for the bad boys of 2013-14” on 26 August.

The depressing thing for many members is how predictable the deluge is. Responding, another member reported getting notices for fines for five clients in one HMRC envelope. They commented: “Everyone on that list has had at least five emails already from us about their tax return, plus a minimum one phone call in January and one a formal letter in February pointing out they will get fined.”

Looking at this cycle, the question does arise about why accountants continue to put up clients who don’t just ignore their tax responsibilities, but don’t appear to pay any attention to their professional advisers. It may be time for those practitioners to question whether they can and should do something about this annual ritual.

There was also an outbreak of new clients coming forward who hadn’t filed tax returns for many years. Even when the tax workload appears to be at its lowest, the spectre of self assessment season never quite goes away.

With this in mind, my colleagues and I are turning our attention to planning for self assessment season. If you are caught in the rut, keep your eyes open for articles offering you support, hope and practical advice for coping in the months ahead.

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