Tax season survey: Changes can make a difference

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John Stokdyk
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Evidence from our Xero-sponsored tax season survey suggests that the January workload peak ran more smoothly for some accountancy firms, thanks to their efforts to improve client communication and streamline processes.

In answer to our question on how this January compared to previous years, the top answers from our 1,100 respondents were:

2014 self assessment experience %
Same as ever 51%
System improvements made a difference 15%
Client management made a difference 13%
SA workload dropped 8%
Another 38% confirmed in a later question that they wouldn’t need to do anything differently next year, as tax season ran smoothly.

The number of practitioners needing to recuperate at home (3%) or take to the ski slopes (4%) suggests that the self assessment deadline is becoming less traumatic for well organised practitioners, and 85% of our respondents were back at their desks on Monday 3 February - a 6% increase compared to 2013.

Our findings suggest it is possible to manage your way through the bottlenecks, and an analysis of how they plan to go about this (compared to last year’s sample) produced further evidence that accountants are increasingly pro-active about identifying and addressing their internal efficiency issues:

Improvement plans 2014 2013 Change
Chase clients earlier 40% 11% +29%
Premium fee for late clients 38% 44% - 6%
Better organise staff 27% 5% + 22%
Sack troublesome clients 23% 1% + 22%
None - it ran smoothly 10% 3% + 7%

In addition to these improvement plans, 13% of the 2014 respondents said they planned to introduce a document-sharing portal and another 10% are considering cloud accounting - both of which could help  tackle the client communication and data collection issues highlighted by survey participants.

If you would like to explore these findings in more detail, and discuss ways that you could improve your internal processes with Practice Excellence Award winner Linda Frier of Coalesco accountants, register now for our Tackling practice bottlenecks webinar next Wednesday at 11am.


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