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Process changes made tax season easier for some

19th Feb 2014
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Over a quarter of accountants introduced improvements to their processes that made a positive difference to their 2014 self assessment season.

Following the 31 January deadline practitioners have been sharing their experiences of the tax workload peak and thoughts on what they would do differently next year in AccountingWEB's tax season survey with Xero.

This article presents some preliminary findings from the survey, which will run for the next few weeks. Afterwards, we will present more detailed findings in a webinar and summary report.

A majority of the 326 accountants surveyed so far reported that tax season was the "same as ever" this year, but 30% said they had made improvements to their systems and how they manage clients that made self assessment go better. 

No matter how it went - good or bad - there is no or little respite for most practitioners after the 31 January deadline; 80% were back at the office on Monday 2 February, preparing for a new financial year, billing and audit reviews.  

Many of the other respondents enjoyed a break away from the office - including, perhaps, some of the 10% who said this years' season went totally smoothly for them.

The biggest bugbear for accountants this year was the same as last year, by an equally wide margin: late and lazy clients (68%). 

As we saw in last year's post-tax season survey, 40% said they want to improve client communication and chase clients more effectively next year. A third would implement a premium rate for late clients. 

But it's not always the client in need of management. Another third of our respondents (35%) said they would organise themselves and their staff better.

Behind clients, the second biggest headaches for accountants this year was HMRC. The tax department's service quality was a problem for 11.6% of practitioners and new legislation such as the high income child benefit charge (HICBC) perplexed a further 6%. 

There were "a few hassles from HICBC and PPI" for one practitioner, and another complained of HMRC reglations and advice being "out of date". 

Four out of 10 respondents said HMRC could improve tax season for accountants by improving service levels, while a further 22% called for greater simplification of tax rules and systems.

For two unlucky members, however, filing systems and software proved a nightmare. In one case, a new system was imposed on a practitioner in January "of all times" and another had to cope with a tax application that broke down on 4 January on took days to fix.

Do these findings match your tax season experiences? Answer our short survey and you be in with a chance to win an iPad Air or some £20 cinema vouchers. 

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