Brought to you by
Bright full colour logo
Bright was created in 2021 when Thesaurus Software Ltd. and Relate Software Ltd. decided to join...
Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

Is August the best time to prep for Self Assessment?

23rd Aug 2023
Brought to you by
Bright full colour logo
Bright was created in 2021 when Thesaurus Software Ltd. and Relate Software Ltd. decided to join...
Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

Ah, back to the old doom and gloom of Self Assessment – where you’re swamped with paperwork and clocks are ticking down at lightning speed. We know, we know, it's only August and you're probably still in holiday mode, but for a brief period (minus the 31st of July deadline), the rush of busy season can be easily forgotten about. Yet, there are some firms out there who’ve turned Self Assessment into a no-drama event.

What’s their secret? Well, they choose to work on Self Assessment in August, rather than the festive season. Here’s why getting ahead of the game in August is a no-brainer. 

1. Have a summer, and a stress-free Christmas 

Remember the days before tax returns became the bane of your existence? Christmas used to mean Yorkshire puddings, scarves made of tinsel, and glorious naps on the couch… Now, it’s HMRC phone lines and binbags of receipts that have you running for cover. With that being said, it’s understandable why most of us leave clients’ tax returns closer to Christmas, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best approach. When you're rushed and under pressure, mistakes are more likely to happen. 

That’s the beauty of doing tax returns in August – both you and your team get to enjoy the summer and actually have a Christmas. Along with that, you'll have more time to review files and ensure everything’s in order before you press the submit button. Also, with kids going back to school, there’s more emphasis on routine and focus this time of year. 

But remember, it takes two to tango. You need to externally communicate these changes to your clients. Let them know of the new deadlines and consequences if they don’t submit records on time. It's a win-win – they'll avoid office scavenger hunts for tax files on New Year’s Eve, and you'll keep your sanity intact. 

I prepare for January in April. So all my guys, last year, I said that October was my cut-off. So if you don’t have your stuff in to me by the end of October, I cannot guarantee January filing, because I just have that much work on.”  

Amanda Lang, Maccass & Lang 

2. Track the workload easily 

By starting the process in August, you have plenty of time to set up a streamlined workflow so everyone can stay on top of their tasks. So make sure you have a decent system in place that lets you see exactly who has supplied what, and what each team member’s working on. For example, in Bright’s practice management solution, AccountancyManager, you can view all of your team’s tasks and progress at a glance. Check out your team’s completed tasks, missed deadlines, and filter the task list to how you see fit. This helps avoid those last-minute panics of figuring out who’s done what and when, and provides you with a much more structured and consistent workflow.  

3. Start reminding clients sooner, rather than later 

One of the biggest headaches around Self Assessment is chasing clients for information. So by reminding them in August, you’re on the way to ticking off those tax returns before busy season even starts. For example, in AccountancyManager, you can set up tax return record reminders and tax payment reminders, getting them automatically to clients at the right time. You can use one of our Self Assessment email templates to make the process even quicker, while still having customisation options (we’ve got over 500 variables for you to choose from) to keep that personal touch. 

3. Get the right tech stack to start chasing and submitting now 

While some people roll their eyes over tech – it’s probably the most important point we’ll mention in this article. Having efficient tools equipped in your firm means you spend less time on admin and other manual work – which is crucial when your goal is to prevent work spilling over into busy season. 

For example, with our cloud tax and compliance solution, BrightTax, you can save 25 minutes per client by submitting Self Assessment files (this includes SA100, SA302, SA800 and SA900, including Scottish rates) to HMRC through the software. So you no longer have to jump between your notebooks, excel files and HMRC’s website to get the job done. Then, you use a practice management tool like AccountancyManager to keep the work flowing through your firm – like chasing clients for records, keeping tabs on your entire team’s tasks, and storing all relevant documents. 

AccountancyManager to us is the place where we start and finish everything to do with work... This is literally the heartbeat of the business. That’s where all of the work comes in and all of the work goes out.” 

Rachel Harris, Director of StriveX 

By taking this more proactive approach, you can boost client satisfaction, offer your team more work-life balance, and beat the rush that the rest of the industry are dreading. It’s time to grab that coffee, fire up your laptop, and start tackling those tax returns. Here at Bright, we create software for tax, compliance, practice management and payroll. We’re on a mission to make a happy and efficient working life a reality for accountants through reliable software and amazing support. Check out our software in further detail with a quick 15 minute demo below. 

 

eleanor vaughey 

 

Written by Eleanor Vaughey | Bright