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Climber reaching the top of a mountain AccountingWEB Are accountants finally mastering self assessment?

Accountants are taking control of busy season


As the self assessment deadline approaches, the Any Answers community appears confident. While January is still a busy month for some, many have put strict strategies in place to keep on top of the tax returns.

15th Jan 2024
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Returning after the Christmas break, many accountants were thrown back into the deep end with the race towards the 31 January self assessment deadline. 

The Any Answers community were asked how they were doing – whether they had everything under control and how they coped with the stress of tax return after tax return. 

Thankfully, it didn’t seem like many were that worried, as they shared their promising statistics of how many tax returns they had left to tackle. 

On top of the game

Accountants took to Any Answers feeling confident and proud of being on top of things. They emphasised their no-nonsense approach to self assessment season and spoke about how they were not afraid to let clients go, making the process much easier and more efficient. 

AccountingWEB member, AS44NG said, “30 out of 300 returns left to do. All but six are just that one piece of information away from being done! So no real issues for us this year despite having far fewer staff hours available, so I am happy with that.”

They continued, “I recommend ditching the usual suspects. We have let so many go over the past three years and haven’t looked back.”

This seemed to be the case for others, including regular commenter Open all hours who wrote, “There are 16 to go and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be done by next Thursday. That’ll make 340 or so in total. We sacked two this week or maybe they sacked us – don’t know as they don’t respond to anything.”

Many accountants on Any Answers have clearly got self assessment under control and aren’t feeling the pressure. 

This was echoed by Ireallyshouldknowthisbut who said, “Well unless you deliberately plan to make January busy, it’s just another month. Planning started years ago by systematically firing rubbish and awkward clients who show up late and demand you drop your planned work for them.”

And even those who were dreading January have been pleasantly surprised. 

“I expected a dreadful January but it turns out it’s not the case. Next week I have my traditional January holiday and normally I have to wake up very early to get as much work done as possible. It seems this year my holiday will be somewhat more relaxed. Happy with that,” AWEB member Cylhia66 said. They put this down to implementing additional fees for those who send information past 1 December, refusing to onboard any clients after that date and getting rid of problem clients. 

Playing catch up 

However, others are feeling the pressure and find the sheer volume of clients a barrier to staying organised, causing a stressful and chaotic January. 

Louise Herrington of Performance Accountancy spoke about the stress of having 800 clients’ tax returns to complete. “We’re down to 167 out of around 800 and out of that lot 67 haven’t actually sent me anything yet,” she said. 

She shared that this year’s self assessment season has been the worst year it’s ever been. Despite telling clients that information needs to be sent between August and September and reminding them of the surcharge (from 10% in November to 100% past 20 January) clients don’t seem to care. 

“They just leave it and don’t deliver anything and I sit there pulling my hair out going ‘I’ve got x number still to do and I haven’t got anything’,” Herrington said. 

As a result of this, she shared that her healthy techniques and strategies for managing stress have gone out the window. She said, “I finish at about two o’clock in the morning. I get about three hours of sleep and then I’m wide awake.”

Herrington said that because of how bad this year has been, she is changing her process for next year. “I will not take any records and I will not chase anyone after 30 November in the hope that it will get rid of the people who aren’t sending stuff.”

One thing she mentioned that is motivating her to power through is 1 February. “On the first of February, I’m sleeping. On the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, I booked myself into a spa so I can have something to look forward to,” she said.

This also seemed to be popular within the Any Answers community and AWEB member, Tom+Cross said, “From next Monday, I’ll work Saturdays and Sundays simply because a holiday in the Canary Islands beckons on 3 February.”

How are you getting on with self assessment? What are you looking forward to doing on 1 February? Let us know in the comments below.

Replies (2)

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By Marlinman
16th Jan 2024 10:15

All my returns were done months ago. I'm taking the whole of January off and enjoying the sunshine in Thailand. I may do a few December year end company accounts corporation tax returns if the clients are ready.

Thanks (1)
By Self-Employed and Happy
16th Jan 2024 11:28

All done mostly by August save for a few Ltd company Directors with year ends after, we push social media this month to pick up new "unorganised" people, then convert them into being organised in April.

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