This self-assessment season is truly like no other. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true – because the usual winter craziness comes just before the April 2019 Making Tax Digital (MTD) roll-out.
Come 1st of February, everyone usually relaxes for well-earned rest. But in 2019, accountants don’t have that same light at the end of the tunnel. Because once self-assessment season is over, we enter crunch time for MTD preparation. And that can mean more long hours and information chasing (depending on your MTD progress internally and with clients).
These 3 steps will help you tackle self-assessments with MTD in mind – so you maximise efficiency, eliminate duplicated effort and minimise ongoing stress.
- Incorporate MTD-related requirements into your self-assessment checklists
This is the time of year clients are most likely to respond to you promptly. You’re on their radar, and they’re getting ready to pass on reams of information. So strike while the iron is hot. Discuss MTD with them while they’re on the phone or engaged in email dialogue. Give them tasks that will make preparation easier once you make this a greater focus come February.
For example, will you need them to change the way they submit expenses or bank statements to comply with MTD? Give them the action points now, when they’re going through your checklists anyway.
- Refine your internal procedures for processing client information
When everyone’s flat out, defined procedures help people stay on track without having to worry, overthink or waste time. Assign roles and workflows. Who’s responsible for chasing which clients? How many times will you email before picking up the phone? Who’s checking information as it comes in? Do you have lists of what’s required, so you know what’s missing for each client (and aren’t scrambling for that missing bank statement come 29 January)?
These processes will not only help you minimise risk and survive self-assessment season, but can also be used for MTD efficiency going forward. After all, you’ll have this level of complexity 4 more times a year from April.
- Ask clients to digitise as much as possible
We know that the old shoebox of receipts will be a thing of the past under MTD. And we know there will need to be more digital collaboration to comply with the new obligations.
This is a good time to get clients used to a digital relationship with you. Have an online collaboration space where you can share information and files. Use electronic signature capabilities for clients who have previously relied on the hard copy route. Give them access to an online status update, so they can see what information is outstanding and what the next steps are.
All these elements will be essential for MTD, and getting clients on board now, when you have their attention, will save time and simplify digital VAT return preparation down the line.
Minimise the risk of future resource challenges
Long hours, bigger workloads and higher stress levels are all hallmarks of self-assessment season. By making strategic tweaks to your processes now, you can make life easier for you and your clients when it comes to MTD – so you’re well positioned for a productive and profitable 2019.