HMRC and busy season: Support guru’s 13 pain-avoiding tips
Keytime’s 13 point programme for a lower stress busy-season
A winter tradition of sorts, the annual tax return deadline has been dubbed ‘busy season’ for accountants for a reason.
The Keytime team handled and resolved 810 customer service cases during the previous December and January busy spell, as practitioners sought a helping hand to navigate the pressures this time of year can bring.
Keen to lessen the stress as we head into busy season once again, Martyn Crompton –Keytime’s Support Consultant– has identified common problem areas and outlined 13 troubleshooting tips to save time and energy at a point you need both! Some are general points, some bespoke to Keytime customers – but hopefully all are useful.
1. Make sure your equipment and software are all functioning as they should, and any updates have been installed and tested. Ensure your team – including any temporary staff helping through the busy period – know how to use the products you use most.
2. When it comes to common issues with software, an easy mistake to make is failing to complete all the pages you need to, e.g. not including PAYE information. Be vigilant as missing information could result in fines.
3. Avoid special characters such as #,' and ", where these are not allowed in the online boxes as this can end up in an error message. A common mistake, but the information provided to HMRC must be UK alpha-numeric only.
4. If Personal Allowances are not being calculating as expected, this is usually due to the client’s income reducing, or changes to their personal allowance in its entirety.
5. If you need to create a return for previous years from an existing return, open the Tax Return and then go to File > Create previous years return > Select the required years tax return.
6. Enter payments on account by going to Tax Calculation Summary Page 1, tab Q7-9 and enter the figures directly into the box "Payments you have made towards your payments on account" > Save the changes and then amount will then appear on the SA302 tax computation.
7. Print a hard copy Declaration Tax return featuring the unique IR mark by going the internet filling management window reached through the Submit option from the tool bar within the Personal Tax software. Prior to final submission you can preview/print the tax return featuring the IR code. Provided no changes have been made to any details, this will be identical as previously submitted (if previously submitted.)
8. To ensure partners link correctly to the partnership return, ensure they have the same set of pages as the partnership return: e.g. full or short. Go into the Partners' SA100s and go to Client > Supplementary Pages > Tick the correct set of Partnership Pages (untick the other set if necessary) and then click Finish.
9. Add partners to the SA800 by going into the Partnership Return to “Client” > “Partners” and add partners from the right-hand side by Click each partner in turn and click the Add button. If they do not appear in the right-hand box, it is because they do not have the correct set of pages in their individual return.
10. To add in Partners' profit allocation percentages (or override the profit percentages), click on each partner in turn and then Edit. You can enter the Profit Percentage or tick the Override box and Save. Do this for each partner and then Finish. Accept the prompt to refresh the info on the Partners pages and it will link the Partners' returns to the Partnership return.
11. Error 1046 isn’t a Keytime issue, but we get plenty of queries about it! Make sure you are running version the latest software, which can be downloaded here. It is usually caused by entering an incorrect number into the software; or HMRC credentials have been entered incorrectly; or HMRC does not recognise the credentials entered as authorised; or the client's return cannot be filed online, perhaps if they get a Government income; or a temporary fault has occurred with HMRC's online service. HMRC's online services helpdesk is here for further assistance. If you are still unable to file a return, ask HMRC for a Case Reference Number and we will help Keytime customers further.
12. Schedule in self-care! Eat and sleep well, take breaks from screen time, ensure there is a work/life balance. It isn’t an indulgent to look after yourself; you will be more productive and happier for it.
13. Take care of those working with you. Help them to prioritise and manage their time, tell them what to expect from your clients, ensure all roles are clear, and make sure they embrace some self-care too.
Last but not least – good luck!
Want some help from the Keytime team? Give us a call and we’ll be very happy to assist.