The problem isn't MTD etc etc it's just that when you're a sole practitioner you can get in such a habit of taking on work, and having more tasks put on you, that eventually you hit the wall.
The key skill as a start up sole practitioner is learning to say "no" or, alternatively learning to delegate to others e.g. get a freelance bookkeeper on board to help - the literal cry for help if you like!
Best overall advice in my opinion is to get yourself someone you can talk to.
That might be a fellow practitioner, a good friend, a counsellor (or if you prefer then call them a coach!).
When we talk often the problems that can feel paralysing don't seem too bad and you start to see the wood for the trees.
The strongest person is the one who admits to themselves or others that they are feeling weak.
There are no links to click on with the DD email.
The only links to click on are where we have had to update clients email addresses (as under MTD they do now get a useful email confirming that the DD will be claimed) and it is the email update which does then send a message to them which they need to click on to confirm that the address is correct.
It does not affect the DD though.
I can say this with relative confidence as we as a practice went on board one quarter early and our DD went out fine.
Let's be honest, in this day and age if you were designing a system from scratch then you would be inputting information once to the "powers that be" when a company is formed and from then on only reporting changes as they arose. Those changes would be reported via a one stop shop and then fed into the different bodies automatically.
If they can move towards that then, in fairness, it will make our lives easier for once.
In regard to reporting anomalies well, from my perspective, that's not anything new as I consider that our duty under AML already? If I knew a director's details were not right there is no way I'm going to present a false confirmation statement to a client for approval for submission or agree to incorporate a company without seeing ID documents.
As for registered office permissions then, fair enough, as in theory we could then rescind that easily in the future if a client went on the missing list leaving us hosting the company address.
What makes me laugh at the sheer incompetence of Government though is that in a world of GDPR and AML that it is only now that someone has woken up to the fact that they are publishing people's signatures for the world to see. But it's one rule for us..........
As a practice our preferred model is to tell clients from the start that they are not accountants and that if they want to try but then fail they will have to pay for us to fix it. I compare it to being given a pile of bricks, sand etc building a wall myself and getting the builder to "finish it"....... they soon understand the potential time issues.
The challenge with MTD is getting the clients who did their VAT returns on the back of an envelope with poor record keeping standards that they have to change.
My view is simple, if the client is capable then we get them onboard with cloud software doing what they can do well (from 10% - 100%), if that just means entering the sales invoices and matching it to payments received then so be it. Then let us review/finalise each quarter. Most of our clients accept they are not accountants and let us take over the majority of tasks.
Our jobs are hard enough - the idea of having to deal with bodged up software records 24-7 from clients is not on my list of MTD benefits.
Actual MTD benefits are to keep our clients up to date with better and improved accounting info and actually exercising our skill sets.
HMRC's MTD benefits will be to rake in the profits from those not understanding what they are doing and making an absolute **** ** of it.
Far from losing clients to IR35 our last contractor client was someone who was actually already in IR35.
Their end public sector client did not want to employ them, understandably so, and they simply decided it fell under IR35 but they still required the contractor to work via their company. She negotiated a marginally better rate which was still slightly better than it would have been had she been employed.
Ironically she is now back out of IR35 because the next contract has different requirements, so it could be that for many this hokey cokey of IR35 / non-IR35 assignments could become a norm.
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!