As the reality of MTD for VAT hits home for many clients, some AccountingWEB members are pricing up a plan B service for those unwilling to change their processes.
In the time remaining, accountants are faced with an MTD for VAT choose-your-own-adventure – option one: step back and let the client get on with it. Or option two: offer a new hand-holding service.
Last week we heard how Peterlee-based firm The Bailey Group is slamming its foot down on the plan B accelerator. The firm’s CEO told AccountingWEB about his Making Tax Digital scan van plans. The idea is that the scanner-equipped van would visit businesses, scan their records and effectively “take the worry off them and do it for them”.
Elsewhere on AccountingWEB, practitioners are concocting their own plan Bs. AccountingWEB regular SteLacca has started to see change-averse clients getting “itchy about MTD”. Unlike their other clients who will file their own VAT returns with no problems, the straggler clients are looking for ways to remain compliant without changing their processes.
For those clients, the AccountingWEB member is set to offer a filing-only service. They don’t anticipate such a service to be too onerous. In fact, they imagine it would only take between 10-15mins. As a result the clients can carry on as they did before while their VAT return is filed in an MTD compliant fashion. Everybody’s a winner, right?
As the discussion unravelled, this service produces a couple of issues. The first being how you’d price such service, but secondly, there is a chance that such a service could tie you later down the road.
The AccountingWEB community was split. AccountingWEB member Wanderer voiced a concern that such a service “ties you into something that's very time critical, for a number of clients, four times a year”.
Those not committing to this long term arrangement are using what time is left to double down on education.
Lionofludesch, who is spared from this rollout, said they’d be educating the client on how to submit rather than shaking hands on something they might regret later down the road. “It’s more expensive at the outset but it'll be more convenient and cheaper in the long run,” they advised. “I'd guess the client would be better off within a year.”
AccountingWEB member NH is also avoiding this idea, too. They’re insisting their clients use the software. “We have gone to each client and shown them the benefits to all concerned, so far no one wants to stick with spreadsheets.”
And Wanderer is another making their clients responsible. Of course, they’ll help them along the way but the ultimate responsibility on an ongoing basis is left with the clients.
But firms are offering this service. For example, SJRUK is also putting their weight behind a file-only service: “The clients that use spreadsheets seem to be adverse to software and therefore we will use our bridging software to file - or that's the plan.”
While the pricing is still being considered for some, the consensus hit somewhere between £40-to-£60. But with that, PaulinLeeds explained, the firm needs to request, review, file, email and bill. “It's not just press the button and file any rubbish,” said Paul. “I would never just submit without a bit of review work.”
However, the agreed price underwent scrutiny from the AccountingWEB members who are leaving it to the client.
“If you are going to review them you need to at least treble those fees,” said Tom7000. “Or you will be chasing your tail when you get 30 returns 90 minutes before you go home on a Friday, which is deadline day.”
However, Ireallyshouldknowthisbut called Tom’s additional £100 review charge a result of “poor client management”. “If you file VAT (which we do) you have to have clear deadlines. 75%+ of our VAT comes in the first week of the month,” they argued.
But for those sniffing at who’d ask for that kind of service, PaulinLeeds answered: Many clients pay for things that they can do, but just not wish to do it or simply value their accountant doing the work. I can clean my house, the windows, do the decorating and the garden. However, I chose to let others do some of these.”
What camp do you sit? Are your clients dragging their feet? Are you going to offer a similar service?
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.