How to prepare your clients for MTD
As a forward-looking accountant, you are well prepared for MTD. But what about your clients? Do they know as much as they should about MTD?
You have spent months reading about MTD and maybe you have even attended some MTD-focused events or webinars to get first hand information from the experts. But what about your clients? Are they as prepared as you are?
MTD will affect your clients, so it makes sense for them to know what to expect when the time comes. Some of your clients might not be affected by the first phase of MTD, which will be first rolled out for VAT returns and for businesses above the threshold, but it will end up affecting all businesses in one way or another.
Take a look at the following steps to make sure all your clients are ready:
1. Divide and conquer
The first step should start with your list of clients. Assess the pre-existing technical knowledge of your clients and divide them between more and less tech savvy. You can do this, for example, by considering which of your clients still keep paper records, or which of them prefer to use spreadsheets instead of accounting software.
You will likely need to spend more time explaining MTD to your ‘shoebox’ clients than to a millennial entrepreneur, so it is important that you divide your client base so that you can offer each client the amount of support that they need.
2. Discuss MTD with your clients
Whereas accountants have been hearing about MTD for months, the government's plans haven’t still reached the general public, even though it will eventually affect all UK businesses in one way or another.
Therefore, it seems that accountants have been tasked with the responsibility of being the first to tell their clients about the digitisation of tax returns. You can send your clients a small written summary of what MTD entails and follow up with a call or dedicate a few minutes of your next meeting with them to answer any questions they may have.
3. Get them to use digital solutions
Your clients above the VAT threshold will need to use an appropriate software solution such as Zoho Books that enables them to file their VAT returns from April 2019. As the plans to roll out MTD follow their course, more and more businesses will be affected by the next phases of MTD.
Look at your clients’ current systems and discuss an action plan to help them transition to new software and/or adapt their processes if necessary.
4. Allow enough time to adapt
No matter how prepared you think you are for MTD, you should be giving yourself and your clients enough time to get used to the new routines and way of filing information. At the beginning, there will likely be questions and even mistakes. So make sure you have enough time to solve them before the deadlines.
5. Provide them with a schedule
The best way for you and your clients to know if you are on track to meet your deadlines is to keep track and inform your clients about key dates. At the moment, the timeline for MTD specifies that from April 2019, MTD will impact VAT reporting by VAT registered businesses and organisations with turnover above the VAT threshold.
Additionally, from April 2020, at the earliest, MTD will be implemented for income tax and corporation tax and MTD for VAT may also be extended to all VAT registered businesses.