Member Since: 17th Jul 2008
I am Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - a nighly ranked online resource tfonr anyone seeking indepdent tax advisers. As such it is also a long established lead generation facility for tax advisers and tax accountants.
Before the lockdown I was also speaking at conferences and awaydays for accountants and tax advisers. I had started describing myself as an 'Immediate Futurist' to help distinguish me from the more general futurologists.
My own focus involved highlighting what accountants need to do differently to succeed in the immediate future.
Many of my articles on AccountingWeb date back to my time as consultant practice editor. Nowadays, when I'm not speaking on stage at conferences or at firms' aways days I tend to work with savvy sole practitioners who want more out of their practice. More clients, more money, more time, more satisfaction - or everything!
After qualifying as a charttered accountant I was in practice for 25 years before choosing to move away from the provision of professional advice in 2006.
I have long been passionate about helping accountants generally so I am a keen blogger and commentator in the accounting and tax press. During my time as consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB I rote hundreds of articles here that have been viewed over a million times.
Check out how I could help you here: www.BookMarkLee.co.uk/savvy
NB: I no longer give tax advice despite being a past Chairman of the Chartered Accountants’ Tax Faculty. I remain Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - the UK's highest ranked lead generation website for tax advisers and accountants. The network also publishes a weekly practical tax update for accountants in general practice and full tax support, on demand too. You can also use it as a lead generation resource for local people seeking tax advice from an accountant.
I have extensive network reach through my blog, talks, social media activity, articles and my regular 'Magic of Success' tips and tricks email that goes to thousands of accountants every week.
Chairman of the Tax Advice Network and BookMarkLee
16th Jun 2020
Well done on picking up on the LLPs point Richard. The fall in the number of conventional partnerships could well be explained by a move to Limited Liability Partnership status.
I love the fact that the report is based on research that has used consistent sources over the years and thus seems far more credible than many other such reports I have seen.
I'm curious however whether the figure of a little over 5,000 sole practitioners quoted on p8 of the report picks up on all accountants who operate that way. That figure feels way too low to me.
This leads me to doubt that the official SIC code data picks up on everyone who sets up (or shuts up) as an accountant or a bookkeeper in their bedroom or front room. So I suspect that the real total number of accountancy firms is somewhat higher than 35,000.
The other thing of which I am unsure is whether the change in the SIC focused numbers is replicated across those accountants who are not included in the SIC focused numbers.
3rd Jun 2020
However lax the firm has been to date you can validly use the current situation to make clear that your terms of business have changed. As such you must be paid in full the fees charged to date (subject to any queries over the work done) before you can do any more work for a client that owes you money.
3rd Jun 2020
Hmmm. Not sure i agree with Justin Bryant that "Such risk can be easily managed via an engagement letter". It's a tad more complicated than this in my experience.
Although it's many years since I acted as an expert witness the basic principles are unchanged. I once acted as an expert in a case where a dual qualified ACA CTA had failed to give pretty obvious tax planing advice to a sub-contractor client. He sued and the defence argued there was no obligation to provide any advice as the engagement letter was clearly only for tax compliance work.
The judgment confirmed that there was a reasonable expectation that such a service should include basic tax planning advice = especially given the CTA qualification on the headed notepaper.
In fact even if the LoE had explicitly stated that no tax advice would be given this might have been struck out as an unfair contract term.
And in the Mehjoo case, where the LoE said no advice would be given, the accountants were found to have gone beyond the terms of the LoE. They had provided advice on occasions and therefore it was reasonable for the client to expected them to give advice in the matter under dispute.
One fundamental issue to keep in mind is what would a reasonable competent accountant or tax adviser have done. If you have done that then you will rarely be deemed negligent.
I wrote at length for AccountingWeb about the Mehjoo case at the time:
https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/hmrc-policy/mehjoo-v-harben-barker-l... and later in subsequent comments on a later piece here:
25th Mar 2020
I really hope they find a solution to this but that poorly drafted bill wouldn’t have been of much help - even if it had passed (which it was never going to do) as it would take time to prove what our self employed income was over a 3 year period.
I suspect the reason they didn’t announce anything for the self employed and freelancers at the outset is because of the practical difficulties to decide how much each person should get and how to get it to them.
With employees there is third-party (employer) evidence of salaries paid through PAYE and, in the main these are constant.
That’s the theory anyway.
The problem with the self employed is that our income can fluctuate from week to week, month to month and year by year. There is no easy to access independent evidence of what would be a fair starting point.
Even if you say HMRC has the records of the last 3 years, their systems aren’t set up to extract this data automatically. And a rule would be required for those who have been self employed for less than 3 years. And so on.
Having said that, I did see a FinTech entrepreneur saying in the Sunday Times that he’d created a solution using open banking that would pick up on banked income over the last 3m. He was hopeful the Govt would look at this as a way of evidencing self employed income.
23rd Mar 2020
Deferral of self employed income tax payments from July 2020 to Jan 2021. And the law of unintended consequences.
Even though I left practice in 2006 I still remember a few basic facts about the tax rules. For example:
- The self employed pay tax in 3 instalments each year (tho tax is only payable on 31st July and 31st Jan).
- Tax payments are generally higher in Jan than in July. This is because 2 instalments are due in Jan each year. That is, the balance of tax due for the previous year and the first payment on account for the current year.
The Chancellor’s announcement last week means that the tax bills in Jan 2021 will be even higher than usual as 3 instalments will be due at once. That is - the deferred July instalment plus both instalments due anyway in January.
This will cause cashflow problems for the self-employed next Jan. So I anticipate a further announcement to allow the tax payable in January 2021 to be paid in 6 instalments.
And if you want a purely speculative consequential suggestion then maybe this will lead to monthly payments of income tax (even on a voluntary basis) throughout 2021 ahead of the introduction of MTD for income tax!
But frankly all bets are off at the moment and I doubt anyone can make reliable predictions about future tax changes!
20th Dec 2019
Good summary John. I make no apologies for having spent much of the last ten years debunking the hype surrounding many of those old predictions. Accountants have proved themselves quite resistant to change. They adapt and evolve - as they did, for example, following the abolition of the small company audit.
BUT - I am now a convert. The pace of change has been accelerating. Life will be very different for most accountants by the end of the new decade and those who adapt sooner than others will increase their chance of survival.
13th Dec 2019
Have to admit I'm with you on this Kevin.
It's rare for me to be less than sympathetic with accountants. But on this issue I have long made the same point.
The 31 Jan deadline has now been with us for over 20 years. Many accountants have trained their clients to respond appropriately to requests to supply data in good time. But some have largely given up trying to avoid the Jan rush - and the attendant stress.
Biggest problem, in my experience, is that accountants don't put the same effort into getting data in Oct/Nov (or earlier) as they do in January. And they accept that Jan will be a challenge - but they're so used to it.....
27th Nov 2019
Great summary Nick. I'm certainly seeing an increasing number of accountants who are embracing significant numbers of these facilities. Those who are holding back do so largely because they feel under pressure to complete all of their compliance obligations - for which they know they'll be paid. Exploring new facilities doesn't generate fees - in the short-term.
I draw the analogy of the woodsman who is committed to chopping down loads of trees. He doesn't make time to sharpen his axe and keeps going as he knows how to use an axe - even if it's getting a little blunt. It's only when his axe eventually breaks and he buys an electric chainsaw that he realises how much time and effort he has been wasting.
22nd Nov 2019
Just to be clear the EY partner quoted above shares my name but it's not me. Obviously!
15th Oct 2019
Spot on Kevin. I have found that one of the key benefits that accountants get from joining The Inner Circle is increased self confidence and thus increased ability to quote and secure higher fees for the work they do.