Avoid the January Tax Return Chaos – Automate Your Requests and Reminders to Ease Your Workload

Happy New Year? For many accountancy firms, January is the most hectic time of year.

As the January 31st deadline looms, once again your clients are suddenly rushing to provide you with last minute information as they realise they need to get their accounts in order and pay their tax.

Every year this happens and the only way to break this is through education and constant reminders and nudges sent to your clients to get the right records, receipts, documents, and information over to you, the accountant.

The issue of sending information over last minute probably comes down to Parkinson’s Law:

Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

“A whole year to complete a tax return? I have ages!” they must think.

Clients might keep their accounts up-to-date throughout the year, or they may just send you everything in one go and rely on you to do the rest.

So how can you have a more peaceful January in 2020?

Scare your clients with tales of fines?

Encouraging your clients to get their accounts in order earlier and keep them as up-to-date as much as possible all year round is an easy solution, but it might seem like a tough one to manage.

Even when you explain the possible danger of a late submission or payment, it can seem like it won’t happen to them.

The client could face:

  • Penalties for late filing.
  • Penalties for late payment.
  • Penalties for failing to notify liability to pay tax.

You could explain this and hope that the threat of fines is enough.

The thing is, most business owners and self-employed people know all too well that HMRC is not an organisation to be messed with, however, some continue to risk it and hope their excuses can save them from the inevitable penalties.

Her Majesty’s tax collectors have heard them all before.

HRMC even publish some of the best. Here are some of our favourites:

  1. My pet goldfish died (a self-employed builder)
  2. I had a run-in with a cow (a Midlands farmer)
  3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (a London woman)
  4. My wife won’t give me my mail (a self-employed trader)
  5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (a Leicester hairdresser)
  6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (a Coventry writer)
  7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver)
  8. I’ve been cruising around the world in my yacht and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (a man from the South East)
  9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (a Kent financial services firm)
  10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (a London accountant)

We hope that last one made you smile.

As funny as they are, none of them worked and they probably all got a fine and interest charged for late submission and payment.

So you need another approach.

Online accounts systems help…

Online accounts packages are easier to keep up-to-date and daily reconciling stops the build-up of bookkeeping and accounting. Receipts can be scanned and uploaded via apps, avoiding the dreaded cardboard shoebox of receipts, and it helps you and your client to make more informed decisions throughout the year, too.

From April 2019, Making Tax Digital (MTD) will mean that those above the VAT threshold will be mandated to use these services. Those below the threshold can use them voluntarily.

But what about the other clients…? And what about those who still leave it all too late even with MTD coming into place?

AccountancyManager helps you to keep the reminders and tasks flowing

The system is only as good as the data you put into it.

Even MTD may not help all of your clients if they simply don’t update their accounts and send you what you need in a timely fashion.

Communication is key and one of the most loved features of AccountancyManager is its ability to automate the process of contacting clients for missing information. The software chases the documents you need and keeps a handle on your tasks so that your clients are in the best position to have their accounts ready, way before the deadline.

Of course, the added benefit to you is obvious as you’ll be able to organise your accounts and tax returns much earlier, putting you in a better position to provide tax saving advice and avoid penalties.

In addition, once you’ve completed the Self-Assessment tax return, AccountancyManager can be set to send automated ‘Tax Payment’ reminders to the client, a huge weight off your mind.

So, having received the information early, saved them tax, received an electronically signed tax return (another feature within AccountancyManager) and reminded them of the right amount of tax to pay by the right time, there’s no more panicking or worrying for anyone.

AccountancyManager can automate it all

  • Automated Self-Assessment Record Request – When a client is added to our system, select the relevant (editable) template that you wish to send. We’ll generate this request for you and send it out with more than enough time to get it completed and filed. If the information isn’t received, then you can set regular reminders to be sent until it has been marked complete.
  • Automated part-records Received Request – If you have only received part of the records you need, simply mark the Task as ‘Part Records Received’, enter what’s missing and the system will send out automated reminders requesting the additional missing information.
  • Option to send via Email, Text or Carrier Pidgeon – OK, not by carrier Pidgeon, but sending reminders out by text is a great way to communicate with your client to avoid them missing an email in their inbox.
  • Custom Forms – This new feature allows you to create a checklist of information you require, such as for a Self-Assessment tax return.

The checklist would appear in the client’s portal and once completed with the relevant information attached, you will receive a notification informing you that all the data has been provided.

  • Automated Task List to manage the workload – AccountancyManager provides an automatically generated task list for you and your staff, which updates when records are marked as received. This ensures you are only focused on cases which can be completed, although tasks can be ordered in a variety of different ways.
  • Electronically Sign the Tax Return – Once the tax return has been completed, you can upload it to the client’s personal cloud storage portal within AccountancyManager. Here, you can mark it to request an e-signature from your client to ensure a smooth and speedy approval.
  • Automated Self-Assessment Tax Payment Reminders – AccountancyManager will remind them to pay their tax and set a series of reminders to go out until they complete the tax payments.

AccountancyManager results in your client accounts being proactively nurtured and monitored throughout the year, preventing another chaotic and time-consuming tax season. When MTD comes into play, this will likely increase next years workload further, so it makes sense to get your tasks, reminders, and time-saving practices in place now.

Don’t feel the pain of January tax hell again; it’s all down to the preparation and a system to manage it.

AccountancyManager will help you to provide a better service to your clients and save you a lot of New Year headaches.

Fancy a run through of the software? Take a look at our demo video so you can see how easy it is to onboard a client and set tasks automatically based on their business and tax situation.

If you need more information, then contact us now and we’ll be happy to help, so you really can have a Happy New Year.