Tax season survey: How to make things better

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We are powerless to change some things about self assessment, such as the natural human tendency to put things off until the last minute and the quality of HMRC’s customer service. But in 2014 our Xero-sponsored tax season survey found that many firms had found ways to make things run more smoothly during the January crunch.

Drawing on the data and ideas from more than 1,000 practitioners who took part in our survey, this article identifies the main issues that bother accountants during tax season, and explores some of the ways they plan to tackle their less co-operative clients and other practice bottlenecks.

How was January 2014 self assessment season? 2014 survey comments:

- “Much stricter this year with people so a little easier”

- “More bums on seats in the office meant the work was distributed more evenly; a few hassles from HICBC and PPI but nothing too severe”

- “Busy, as new clients acquired in year and short of good staff”

- “Cluttered by employer queries about RTI tax liability being all to pot”

Just over half of respondents (51%) felt that their 2014 self assessment experience was "the same as ever". But comparing the results of the 2014 tax season survey with last year’s equivalent indicated that in spite of some minor complications such as the Higher Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC), things were getting better for our respondents.

For 28%, adjustments they had made to their systems and internal processes had a beneficial effect, while 38% said they were happy with their existing systems. In answer to our question about plans for improvement, another 11% said they had no need, as things had run smoothly this year - nearly four times as many as last year.

What were the biggest problems you encountered?

For more practical ideas and suggestions to improve the performance of your firm, download the whitepaper from Linda Frier explaining how her Practice Excellence Award-winning firm Coalesco Certified Accountants manages the tax workload and troublesome clients. It's packed full of tips on how to improve client communication and speed the flow of work in your firm throughout the year, not just during self assessment season

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About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and


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09th May 2014 09:42

Chase clients early

With some clients you cannot chase them early or often enough, re-organising staff becomes the same old.. same old.

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