Member Since: 31st Oct 2016
30th Jul 2019
I posted this back in October 2016 https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/community/blogs/feelingthestrain/depression
I am/have been quite a regular contributor to AccountingWeb over the years but on this subject, even now, am not comfortable saying "it's me!" hence the fact that my profile name isn't my regular name!
Last year I saw a counsellor week in week out for about a year.
He was great.
It became more of a work training session rather than anything else with me talking and talking and coming up with plans of what I needed to do and then the following week reporting back. He'd ask me the questions that I needed to be asked and every single week when I walked out of his door I felt lighter than when I went in.
It made no difference to him whether I made any changes or not but I felt accountable to myself and it made me rationalise things and start to change my approach to work and life in general.
Even now, if I were to feel under strain in, say, October, I can just give him a call and go and spend an hour stepping outside my life and analysing things.
Have I completed the "journey" yet, hell no, but in regard to the MTD aspect (which definitely was the jolt) I'm feeling there are benefits in the way we are working now which are allowing me to accept that:
1. I am the master of my destiny if I choose to be.
2. There is an escape if I want it and the first one is to learn to say "no" to people and remember that I can resign from a client anytime I choose to if it gets too much or they are expecting too much.
Another tip as well - when something goes well allow yourself to take a moment on your own and give yourself a little fist pump and scream a "yes!" inside yourself. Learn to feel the positives and dilute the negatives.
17th May 2018
We’ve laid the groundwork in readiness but, as the ACCA told me last week, the key right now is to show you are on the journey towards full gdpr compliance and roll out gradually
In the meantime I’m waiting to see TaxCalcs GDPR module that I hear is being launched at Accountex next week. Hopefully it’ll prove a quick way to get several steps forward and give us a solid long term solution too.
The choice of spending hours putting something together ourselves or making ourselves aware of the changes and then using a software solution to make the task more manageable is a no brainer in my opinion
The fact that the ACCA only released their recommended new engagement letter software on 30 April supports my view that it’s better to take time to do this properly rather than panic.
Expect clients to also then ask for help with their journey...... as it’s hitting everyone it seems even a small builder who stops cis off a couple of sub-contractors
10th Feb 2017
I actually read Nichola's comments a few days ago on her website just before I emailed Jacob Rees Mogg and Andrew Tyrie who are both interested parties on the Treasury Select Committee.
My representations to them were not with the goal to destroy MTD (I think HMRC have gone too far to allow that to happen now) but rather to move the goalposts to make it workable:
1. My old chestnut of a preferred option is to allow three months to file the quarters update which is then more workable for accountants and, perhaps, would solve a lot of our December/January nightmares because we'd have decent data from clients by June/July leaving us a six month window to January.
2. To follow Nichola's approach that a minimum requirement would be to submit income data quarterly with the option to submit expense data annually. Again this is something which seems achievable.
3. To ensure that the threshold is lifted to the VAT registration level. At present we prepare VAT returns for about 70 clients - we could double that with extra staff because at least it's spread evenly and at that level of turnover most clients are running a "proper" business in the sense that they are more likely to work with us e.g. remove the carrier bag clients from MTD.
My overall conclusion was to ask what do HMRC really want? Is it accurate data that can be of some use or are they really looking to fill the alleged tax gap with penalties? I pushed the point that in my opinion (with our firm submitting over 300 returns last year) the current proposals are completely unworkable and will fail very very quickly.
I also added the fact that HMRC's view that perhaps agents would review the quarterly update within the one month window was unrealistic because if an issue then comes up there is no time to resolve it so what do you do then? Answer submit incorrect data - which is a complete contradiction to their alleged goal.
The proposals as they stand should, for our own sanity, paralyse us from believing we have any chance of proper and meaningful quarterly involvement with our clients meaning they submit "rubbish" (you could call it fake data for the value it would probably be), and then we have 10 months to re-work it e.g. business as usual for us and time wasting for our clients through the year.
My advice to all contributors is to be bombarding HMRC, the Treasure Select Committee and the Lords Economic Committee with our opinions - it takes no longer than writing a post on here.
9th Feb 2017
I was going to comment saying exactly the same - auto bank feed recalling previous analysis that the client never checks, memorised transactions just being posted with no review, bank and credit card accounts unreconciled, debtors and creditors lists in a mess..........
How often do we find ourselves completely reworking via spreadsheet because it will be far quicker and cheaper than trying to fix our clients attempts at being accountants?
Spend a day in the real world HMRC
8th Feb 2017
Up until now though businesses, and accountants supporting them, have found a way somehow to just about keep things together.
This is the first time I think we have been faced with something which we all agree is impossible particularly with the proposed time constraints stopping us from helping our clients in the way we currently do.
Cloud accountancy practices, and software providers, attract taxpayers/businesses who are ready willing and able to do things themselves.
It's everyone else that I am worried about.
8th Feb 2017
Where is the democracy when you have the Treasury Committee, The Lords Economic Affairs Committee, Accountancy Bodies, Federation of Small Businesses, Accountants in general and businesses all saying that this is unworkable and yet STILL it rolls on.
Who exactly is driving this because clearly this country is fast becoming a dictatorship.
If only HMRC would invite a dozen of us around for afternoon tea then I swear that a workable, realistic, model for this could be sorted out in a couple of hours!
Handing a small business owner a smart phone, an app, a deadline and expecting more accurate accounting data and a correct tax calculation is an utter joke.
HMRC keep saying they expect businesses to maintain records as they go and that's why they want a one month filing window
Richard Murphy clearly gets the reality though when he points out that each update would take at least half a day (per quarter) and yet he calculates that HMRC believe this to be a cost of £4.36 per business per update!
I must remember next time I'm recruiting to take on a builder to join the bookkeeping team - HMRC believe they can do this in 36 minutes per quarter....wow the profit for the practice would be astounding!
If only every business had a receipt for each expense immediately to hand to scan though - factor in lost receipts with only a bank record to identify to support it, emailed receipts etc and for an untrained individual to produce correct records... well it's even worse than Mr Murphy anticipates.
7th Feb 2017
HMRC could change a lot of moods by just changing one part of MTD which is: Forget a one month filing window and make it 3 months.
It wouldn't be great and I'd still see no logic in any part of this but at least it would make it it far more realistic a proposal for accountants and taxpayers alike to make a success of. Summer holidays, Easter and Christmas could be navigated with ease.
Additionally the larger the business the more complicated the affairs and you can't properly review things with a matter of days to investigate issues.
Better record keeping, better data for HMRC, all still well within the window for tax payments.
I only see one reason why HMRC would object to this and that is that they want the penalties.
6th Feb 2017
I don't think it has to be cloud based software but rather software that is going to be able to "talk" to the Revenue's MTD interface.
Last year I exchanged emails with Steve Checkley from TaxCalc and he confirmed he was pushing HMRC to allow spreadsheets to continue and they were developing a solution which would work along the lines of the way "we" work with our clients e.g. we are not fortunate enough to only act for firms of a "certain size" with tech savvy owners.
I don't foresee any problem with how we get the data onto the MTD platform - it's getting it from the clients and processed that is the impossible task.
A task I would suggest that HMRC are intending for our clients to do and not us
In particular read pages 36-38 (too long to quote here)
HMRC's view is: The month’s submission period is not intended to be a lengthy window of time in which a business starts to enter all its transactions in the digital records from paper. If a business has been keeping digital records ‘as they go’, the update should be straightforward to generate and send.
In other words agents are not expected to be doing the entering............ (because that's the real world isn't it).
6th Feb 2017
I agree completely, as I've set out below I see the solution as being a quarters window to file a quarterly submission.
Right now I look at a big picture and think we need to get clients doing more themselves but then I stop and picture the faces of those clients and realise that they come to us because they can't or don't want to do it in the first place. I've been informing our clients about this since April last year and they all just look back at me with blank expressions.... only 1 of 300 responded to our offer of helping them use software.
Would I employ any of my clients as bookkeepers working for me? Would you?
I close my eyes and think "double the bookkeeping staff to cope" and then I remember the filing window and realise it's almost impossible.
I then think "change year ends across the client population to stagger it"
...and then I think - this is getting crazy
I would love to sell up but I'm 43 with a successful business, busy and stressful life and a large mortgage.
Perhaps I could escape with the 25% top clients though and hide in my study at home and be one of those you see on the software advertising campaigns who has a smiley conversation on the phone with my client whilst looking at a large ipad screen.
Never before have accountants felt so stressed during the first week of February!
6th Feb 2017
In fear of repeating myself but the only solution I have come up with, which is not ideal I know but at least potentially workable is:
**A 3 month window to make a quarterly submission**
This makes it a real possibility for agents to undertake the work that many (most?) clients would want us to do and we could then do it properly first time. This makes the data better for the client, HMRC and us. We can then undertake the year end confirmation within the window up to 31 January when the tax is due (we have to keep the quarterly ticking along in the meantime and I like seeing some post year-end data when doing so).
Make the above the rule for any business with a turnover below that of the audit threshold.
I can only think of one reason why HMRC would object to this.............. THEY WANT THE PENALTIES. (If you are reading this HMRC then please PM me to justify why my suggestion is not a good one?)
Either that or they think that people not trained as accountants/bookkeepers make better accountants/bookkeepers than us and would prefer to rely on their data.....
They also miss the point that, often, we are the ones making our clients see sense and submit proper details of profit/tax. Believe me if the business owner is having to do things himself and is struggling for time/money he's going to be tempted to make his taxes lower and not higher - whereas we make sure (as far as possible) that we just get it right.
After all isn't this all supposed to be about creating useful more accurate data?