5 ways to stop Self Assessment ruining every January
Christmas decorations in the shops can only mean one thing. It’s about 3 months until the 31st January. Why would we mention two such horrifying things? Because we have the solution – for your self assessment nightmare, not the untimely tinsel.
Whether it’s chasing your clients or keeping track of who’s supplied what, AccountancyManager can take the busy out of busy season.
Problem 1: Creating a Self Assessment questionnaire
You may well be a pro at Microsoft Word text boxes by now, but the DIY approach to forms has a few issues:
- Time consuming to build, format and change
- Inconsistent – your team may use old versions
- Adding explanations make forms super long
- Hard to fill out and decipher – your clients may print out and fill in by hand
AM’s solution: Ready-to-go online Custom Forms
In AccountancyManager you can create online forms, just like in Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. We’ve already made a Self Assessment form for you, but you can change it or create new forms.
Anna Nikolovska at Digital Accounting uses Custom Forms for her Self Assessment clients: “When you guys introduced custom forms, we thought, 'wow, that's amazing'. We were sending this Excel spreadsheet with a Self Assessment questionnaire to all our clients. They’d struggle to open it on their mobile and it got to the point that people would print it out and hand write their answers. Using custom forms, it's brilliant. People just get it on their mobile, they click on the link, they answer all our questions and it comes directly to us.”
Problem 2: Emailing each Self Assessment client
Attaching a document to an email might not take long, but then you need to BCC all your SA clients with a generic email. (Then resend to all the addresses that bounce back.) Or you may send out your Self Assessment questions in batches or individually, having to write a new email each time.
AM’s solution: Client Portal, Client Lists and Templates
Rather than emailing your form as an attachment, in AM you can add the Custom Form (or your own) to the Client Portal. When you add something new to the portal, AccountancyManager will email (and text) your clients letting them know it’s there.
Use the filters in the Client List to bulk upload your form to the right Client Portals. And use a templated email (and text). In these templates, you can use all kinds of variables to make the emails unique to each client.
Your clients can complete their Custom Form in their portal, without having to download or print. When they’ve completed it, you’ll get a notification in AccountancyManager.
Problem 3: Chasing (and chasing) your clients
You have enough to do without having to chase clients. If you have 200 Self Assessment clients and you have to chase them all three times, that’s 600 emails you need to write and send.
AM’s solution: Automated Reminders
Set up Automated Reminders in AM to chase for approval automatically at the critical time weeks or days before the submission deadline. For example, tax payment reminders are automatically sent to your client to remind them on the 31st January and 31st July to avoid a client missing the deadline for paying their tax.
Andy Sullivan from Complete HQ uses automated reminders and comments: “What's helped is the automated reminders for information to clients, so we're not stressing out about tax returns now. The better your systems are for chasing people for tax information, the quicker you turn them around, and the less stressful your Christmas and New Year are’.”
Problem 4: Keeping track of who has supplied what
On top of the time it takes to write and send chasing emails, don’t forget the organisation behind it. If a client has supplied their form, you don’t want to keep chasing them. Equally, no client should fall through the cracks and not get a nudge.
AM’s solution: Records Received & Part Records Received
In AccountancyManager, each client has Tasks associated with them, for every service you provide them. When a client completes their online form – or you recieve their answers another way – you can set the Task status to ‘Records Received’.
Anyone in your practice can check the status of all Tasks at a glance. It’s also useful to generate a list of clients with the status ‘Records Received’ to help you plan work.
If your client has partly responded, you can select ‘Part Records Received’ instead. This can automate a new set of chasing emails.
Problem 6: Getting Self Assessment Tax Returns signed
Here come the hundreds of chasing emails again. But this time, you’re sending even more sensitive information to your client.
AM’s solution: E-signing, Automated Reminders and Client Timeline
Again, you can simply upload the Tax Return to the Client Portal. Here, your clients can sign the return within the portal. If your clients need a nudge, you can set up automated reminders for the e-signature too.
Once it’s signed, you get a notification and the signed document will be recorded and time-stamped on the Client Timeline.
Your client can access their signed Self Assessment Tax Return in their portal, which means they won’t have to call or email you if they need it.
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