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Self Assessment Deadline
Self Assessment season – not everyone’s favourite time of year. Are most of your clients’ tax returns done and dusted well before the 31st of January? Or do you find yourself working right up to the self assessment deadline, thanks to clients leaving things to the last minute?
It needn’t be that bad. If, like many accounting professionals, you dread the thought of it, here are some ideas for making the impending Self Assessment deadline less stressful, from setting your own deadlines to reviewing the systems you use.
We’ve heard from a number of accounting professionals who use these practices, and we’d love to hear from you too.
Self Assessment season – not everyone’s favourite time of year. Tell your Self Assessment story on Twitter using the #selfassessmentstress hashtag and tag @QuickBooksUK.
How to remove the stress of the Self Assessment deadline
1) Use your fees to incentivise your clients
Some incentives include:
Early-bird discounts - You could offer discounted fees for clients who submit their data in good time and in good order – say before the end of August.
Tiered fees - You could offer a fee structure to encourage your clients to provide paperwork early. The later they submit, the more they pay.
Late penalties - You could tell clients that you’ll only be able to offer the same fee as last year if you receive all the necessary data before Christmas. After that, they’ll need to pay a premium (maybe 25%–50%) in order to have their tax return processed before the Self Assessment deadline.
2) Make it as easy as possible for clients to send you their data
You can do this by:
Making sure clients know exactly what data you need from them and how they should send it.
Reducing the risk of inaccurate and incomplete data, by providing checklists of everything you need from them.
Using the same accounting software as your clients- so you’re accessing their data directly. You’ll eliminate errors and speed things up enormously. This also keeps you and your client in touch and helps avoid clients turning up in the last week of January with a bag full of receipts.
3) Set your own deadline
Get clients to work to your tax return deadline, not to the one on the 31st of January. Once you’ve chosen a date, tell them your earlier deadline in all correspondence, and don’t mention 31st January. Just be warned, you’ll have to take your own deadline very seriously to make this work.
4) Head off mistakes
Here’s a frightening statistic - one in five people filing their own self assessment return over the past few years think they may have made an error that has cost them financially. Given that over 10 million returns are filed every year, that’s a lot of mistakes – and a lot of potential clients needing your help.
So, outline to clients what some of the most common tax return errors are. Tell them how to prevent them. You can give examples specific to the type of client you’re dealing with at the time.
5) Provide support
Offer workshops or even online webinars- explaining to clients how they can make meeting the Self Assessment deadline easier for themselves. You can round up key points and any changes they need to know about, and it’s also a good chance to let clients ask any questions.
Staying in close communication with your clients like this will encourage them to act when you want them to.
6) Review your own systems
After the Self Assessment deadline has passed, it’s a good time to see how you can improve your own in-house processes. Ask yourself:
What lessons have you learned?
What could you do differently?
Can any of your communications or procedures be improved in light of what you’ve learned?
Approach the self assessment deadline with confidence
If you want the Self Assessment deadline to be met as smoothly as possible, make sure both you and your clients are using reliable online accounting software and Self Assessment tax software, such as QuickBooks. You’ll all be on the same page (literally), which will save you huge amounts of time during this stressful period.
QuickBooks’ Self Assessment calculator makes it easy to keep accurate records of your clients’ expenses. This year, you can save hours of admin and lose the piles of paper when you manage your clients’ expenses with QuickBooks.
Now go forth and approach next year’s Self Assessment deadline with confidence.
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