SA deadline day: It's the final countdown

Businessman be trapped in hourglass
The Imprudent Accountant
An unnamed firm
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Even for the average Joe or Josephine the last week in January is pretty depressing.

This is the time of year when you leave home for work in the dark, return in the dark and can't be bothered to go out at lunchtime because it is too cold and wet.

I have little doubt that within the next few days the papers will come up with their perennial articles, cheering us up with a reminder that we have reached the most depressing day of the year.

If you work in audit or accounts preparation, then your busy period is probably either starting or approaching fast, as those December year end accounts line up to be dealt with.

However, spare a thought for your fellows who decided on a qualification that tax was the life, particularly handling the personal tax affairs of demanding clients.

Any accountant who makes himself or herself a martyr to clients who cannot be bothered to do what is requested until the last minute is an idiot.

I would love to think that this article will be met by a barrowload of responses from practitioners saying that they filed their last self-assessment tax return in the week before Christmas and have been sitting with their feet up ever since.

Even better, some might have remembered to do their own tax returns, rather than recalling in a panic at 11pm. on 31 January that they haven’t even started to get the paperwork together.

In reality, I fear that many of those who should be reading this column will not have the time to do so since they will be marshalling the forces for a final assault on what are likely to be some of the trickiest tax returns that they have to complete.

I don't want to make stressed-out readers even less happy than they were already are and therefore the rest of this article will be filled with good cheer in an attempt to give them at least a modicum of hope.

As a start, those of you who have already turned the tax return season into history will realise that even darkness and sub-zero temperatures are not enough to wipe that smile off their smug faces.

In the worst case scenario, practitioners now only have a few days of hell ahead and then the world will become all sweetness and light again for another ten months.

Even if many of us may need to spend a few days in February clearing up the mess and sending out some errant bills, that is not the worst disaster in the world.

After that your first action should be to thank all of your staff profusely, preferably by offering each of them some time off or a bonus for helping you to get through the toughest annual experience that any accountant is likely to face.

Next, I would strongly advocate taking some time off and, even better, booking a holiday somewhere sunny. If ever there was a time to recharge batteries when even the most awkward of clients might well accept the absence of their trusted adviser, this is it. With half term coming up, it may even be an opportunity to see the kids (was it two or three?) for the first time in three months and remember why you love/hate them to distraction (delete as applicable).

I would also suggest, as I so often do, that any accountant who makes himself or herself a martyr to clients who cannot be bothered to do what is requested until the last minute is an idiot.

Look at all of your insufferable peers who have been boasting about getting all of their tax returns in for weeks and begin to compose a foolproof strategy to ensure that in January 2020, you too could be sunning yourself in Australia through January or hoping that global warming has not brought snow to Florida.

You know it makes sense. Now make it happen!

About The Imprudent Accountant

About The Imprudent Accountant

Someone who should know better, but can't resist the occasional rant about the more exasperating aspects of the accountancy profession.


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30th Jan 2019 13:24

In most cases in my view they are really martyrs to their own greed. It's a trade off for every accountant to make, between the sheer hassle and depressing nature of dealing with deadline chasers, their rubbishy records and lame excuses year after year - but taking their fees.

Or saying no to both of those. My vote is for the latter, so all tax returns filed by 15th and only 5 out of 180 or so were filed in January. But each to their own, it's a free choice we all make.

As long as we don't choose the greedy option and then spend all January moaning.

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