With less than two months to go until the self assessment deadline, accountants are already feeling the strain of the annual client chasing event, or in more favourable cases celebrating their dwindling tax return pile.
This week, AccountingWEB members revealed on Any Answers their current tax return standings. As with most years, the main culprit preventing accountants from enjoying a restful January is client wrangling. But to make the annual rush more manageable, a number of proactive practitioners have already taken a sizeable bite out of their tax returns.
Practitioners starting earlier
Ireallyshouldknowthisbut, for example, has completed 70% of their tax returns. Since last year, the AccountingWEB regular has pushed forward their season to avoid working “silly hours” in January.
Last self assessment season, the member noted how they had already filed the majority of their tax returns before the end of the year. While they currently have more left than they usually would, the member expects to be in a similar position again this year. But that still leaves the latecomers in January.
AccountingWEB columnist Glennzy is also on course to be mostly tax return free before Christmas. “I did most of mine early so only have a few left to do.” But he expects to be “chocka busy" inputting March and April year-ends and current year into Xero.
In a September blog, Glennzy reported that he was ahead on his tax returns because he started early with the easy ones in May and June. Instead, Glennzy has reserved his stress-free January to work “on the business instead of just in it”.
Elsewhere, AccountingWEB member Marks has filed a third of his tax returns, which puts him ahead of his position this time last year.
Here are the current AccountingWEB SA stats (30/11/2017):
|Filed||Out for signature||In Progress||Not in|
|I really should know but||196||24||46||53|
(Other AccountingWEB members submitted their current stats but the members listed offered a more complete outlook of their figures. Where the figure was not given, the space has been left blank.)
Panicked by some of the member’s stats accountantccole thought they were the only one with over hundred left to do. But with a flipchart full of post-it notes already stuck to the wall and a plan in place, the AccountingWEB member still felt confident about their current workload: “I think we are ahead of last year and the team is getting quicker and stronger so feel more in control than last year.”
Client chasing still a problem
But despite technology like e-signatures that should theoretically speed up the client sign-off process, accountants such as Manchester Man are still seeing clients take longer to sign and return accounts.
The outstanding list of tax returns did not surprise Lionofludesch, the AccountingWEB member who started the thread: “Same old names on it, I could've photocopied last year's list.”
Accounts12, who is already wishing the days away until February, has more staff than last year but the stress from clients remains the same. “No matter how many times I repeat myself to say let's try and get it done before Christmas so you know what you need to pay, apparently, that is just not enough of an incentive to make the time to get their records across to me!”
Same story every year
When AccountingWEB had previously charted the biggest burden of the self assessment season, client chasing would always top the January grief list. Clearly, many members are on track to experience similar frustrations.
It is the same story every year. In February, AccountingWEB member Kate R perfectly encapsulated the cyclical, Groundhog Day nature of the annual event: “Had a few [clients] who blamed me for not reminding them, but after umpteen years of SA they know when the deadline is.”
AccountingWEB veteran and SA onlooker David Winch, who specialises in litigation and forensic accounting, neatly summed up the next few months: “It's the time of year when I am especially glad that I don't do accounts preparation or tax return work.”
How do you compare? How many tax returns do you have left? Are you going to have a restful Christmas or are you on course for a stressful January? Share your current standings below.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.