I must be getting older as well then!
Being an unorganised clients hero in the last week of January doesn't help them to get better for the next year! Give them a £100 fine and they learn and you'll see them a few weeks later at the start of April (well for this year anyway but probably the year after that it'll be back to January again!)
Any clients instructing from mid-December are told that we are accepting instructions on the basis that they accept they are likely to suffer a £100 fine. Often focusing them on the existence of the 5% late payment penalty at the end of February makes the £100 fine seem like peanuts and then, if we choose to burn some midnight oil to clear the decks, it's on our terms not theirs.
Trying to find ways to manage stress are a must when you're operating a small practice. We can't be expected to carry the burden of each client's stress as they walk in hand over their bag/envelope and walk out feeling light as a daisy whilst we feel despair at the thought of not seeing our children until February!
A good dose of client resignation letters for those we can do without, or threats of resignation with clear requirements if we are to retain them, around February/March is a good spring clean task too!
If you'd asked me two or three years ago, and some of my colleagues, the fear was that the direction of travel was people doing things themselves and less work for us.
The reality in fact though has been the opposite. Clients that were doing things themselves are now asking us to do more and all this before MTD for VAT has even started, and before HMRC's letters even arrived on the doormats.
We have had a good number of new clients on boarding with us this year, in each case start-ups looking to use Xero or QB, and then realising that there's more to being compliant than they realised and that the software does not just do it all for you.
I sense the software companies leaning ever more towards us as partners than had been the case before. Phrases such as "even your accountant will love it" have crept in more and more in the last year.
Overall though, red books, spreadsheets or the cloud, it comes down to the people using it and their standard of initial data. Whether they be good or bad business owners, or lets be honest good or bad accountants (a glossy website doesn't reveal the quality of work of the now often faceless accountant), it still comes down to Rubbish In Rubbish Out and no software package with promises of "job done" will ever change that.
I would have expected there to be a step 2.1 known as "obtain the client's agreement to the figures" before pressing the button to submit..........
Have HMRC announced whether they are writing directly to VAT registered businesses or have they passed the buck to agents?
What about unrepresented VAT registered businesses? Are they assuming that everyone regularly reads all the latest HMRC updates or, alternatively, that when the first return after 1 April 2019 is due for submission those businesses will suddenly hit a brick wall and then will learn all about MTD!
..... God help us all if Brexit ends up getting scrapped too!
In my opinion this is heading in one, perhaps logical, destination which will be that quarterly reporting under MTD would ultimately only apply to VAT registered businesses.
That would then mean that the data from the VAT submissions would be used to estimate the tax liability with the year end process then also being made via software.
MTD and quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover below £85k has always been the one part of this that I felt was going to risk going out of control. Perhaps the risk of such an unrealistic strategy being rolled out is reducing - at least until technology and more widespread behaviour by people make that a logical development (people are certainly not there yet).
We've been migrating clients to the cloud now for 18 months starting with the largest and working our way down. However, we've done it for the right reasons and not because of MTD and I have to say that I am starting to see that the year end process for us is going to be easier than was the case previously.
All MTD has achieved so far in my opinion is to cause a lot of us an awful lot of stress and anxiety worrying about how on earth we would cope.
But it forced us to move forward towards the cloud and, actually, that's been a good thing.
Interesting to also note they will be basing it on the QB data.
You have to wonder whether they will expect verification from a third party, e.g. accountant, to sign off such applications.
Based on recent experience over the last month the direction of travel is very much seeing new businesses signing up for cloud accounting believing the "accounts done" hype and then quite quickly realising there's a lot more to accounts/tax return prep than just putting numbers into software.
Three new clients via the QBO find an accountant service in a month offers represents a growth for us of 1% in clientele at a time when small businesses at large still have no real knowledge/understanding of what MTD means. I have to wonder whether we should all be prepared for an avalanche of work in the next few years as people realise they simply can't/don't want to do accounts. There's a lot more to it than simply attaching a bank feed and hoping for the best.
Saying all that though there's no doubt that businesses who are interested in their accounts, and are pro-active with us as their accountants, are dream cloud clients to have and the adding on of more complimentary services to the cloud offering can only be good.
However, in contrast to some firms who promote "cloud or nothing" to their clients, then I actually think there will be more than one solution to MTD and we have to be prepared to be flexible along the way.
My view is a selfish one which is simply that I don’t want to carry January to February
I’d be well within my rights at the moment to tell about 30 clients that they’ll be late but instead I tell them and any of the other 28 we are waiting on that they need to get the records to us and we will do our best but no guarantee (we only guarantee if instructed by 30 September)
If we told them tough you’re late then the next thing I know it will be the end of April and we will be chasing to avoid £10 a day penalties
So these days I’d confess our January is self inflicted / chosen just to avoid carry over to February
I like the line in the sand of 2017 returns done and to look forward not back
Easier said than done when you get the troops in on a Saturday and all the HMRC systems are broken!
I don't agree with the assumption that end clients will suddenly wish to convert contractors to employees.
The rules are actually that the service company will suffer tax deduction but does that then imply that the director of that company is then entitled to holiday pay etc?
Assuming it doesn't then you have a position where the end client may decide they want the best of both worlds e.g. the flexibility of using a third party contractor and peace of mind that, tax-wise, they are doing the right thing as, after all, if they are engaging for a shorter duration contract then they are unlikely to want the commitment to a new employee
The whole mutuality of obligation kicks in here too - the end client may have no responsibility, or intention, to give more work and that's where the balance starts to look uneasy.
So then you'd find a chunk of contractors (who are working long term for one end client and therefore you can say "fair enough") do switch to PAYE but that others retain independence, potentially suffer larger tax deductions on some contracts, but then as it settles undoubtedly argue better rates with the end client as the rules of supply and demand kick in.......
Or they "genuinely" just change the way they work either way we all know that working practices will change for such contracts.