Home » Taking the ‘Mare’ out of the ‘Nightmare before Christmas’
While the sheer volume of personal tax returns means January is arguably the toughest month for accountants, the run up is far from easy. September and December can become quickly overwhelming as accountants juggle an array of deadlines from Financial Year Ends to R&D Tax Relief claims. With masses of pressure to submit claims in a timely manner, it can be easy for accountants to omit important information to support claims which may put a strain on client relationships in the process. However, Jen Badger, Operations Director at WhisperClaims explains why a repeatable, consistent process backed up by cloud-based technology can transform the accountant’s workload and the client experience.
September to December is a stressful time for accountants. The bulk of tax bills fall due in September – which accountants should be offsetting with R&D Tax Claims if their clients have eligible work. Financial Year Ends are looming; as well as hard deadlines for December 2020 R&D Tax Relief claims, which must be with HMRC by midnight on 31st December. And, of course, every year everyone forgets that the country now effectively shuts down around 20th December, which means accountants have even less time and even more pressure to get through the workload.
Failure to meet these deadlines will not just mean an even more challenging January; it could result in clients missing out on vital claims. No client is going to thank an accountant who has built up a role as trusted business adviser, who then fails to get an R&D Tax Relief Claim in on time – or, indeed, submit an incomplete one that leads to an HMRC investigation further down the line – especially given the current pressures on cash flow. Nor, of course, will clients enjoy being chased for information when at home during the pre-Christmas wind-down.
It is, therefore, vital that accountants put in place solid processes for managing tax relief claims. There is no need to undertake a bespoke process for every client. With a robust, repeatable process, accountants can improve the consistency and quality of the client experience.
Underpinning this process with a solid technology platform can unlock additional efficiencies. Knowing at the beginning of every month what claims are due and when, and their current status, is key to mitigating the risk of mistakes creeping in. The system can also prompt accountants through the relevant questions for an R&D Tax Relief claim – and rapidly create the supporting information and HMRC report. Plus, for those clients that have made a claim before, it is simple to update the new claim with relevant information from the last year, further reducing the time required.
It is also important to maximise relevant skill sets. When everyone within the accountancy practice has full visibility of the information, including claim status, the workload can be shared effectively -between the financial and technical experts, for example. In addition, a cloud-based solution can help accountants address the endemic problems associated with getting clients to provide relevant information. Clients can self-serve, providing responses to a subset of the full question list whenever is most convenient – and check out the supporting information about R&D Tax Claims and HMRC demands if required. As a result, clients can confidently upload data in the evening or over a weekend, without the need for direct interaction with the accountant, improving the timeliness of data and avoiding that last minute panic.
Speed of Execution
Combining a robust process with intelligent software-based support and with R&D tax expertise on hand from the software vendor too, completely transforms the time taken to create an R&D Tax Claim – freeing accountants to focus on the many other issues required to hit all the deadlines on time. Even if an accountant is working right up to the wire, as soon as the button is hit, the report is available within seconds. No last-minute number crunching; no need to get the basics to HMRC by midnight to hit the deadline and then hoping to have time to complete the report in the first week of January.
With a fast, effective and consistent approach that works for both client and accountant, deadline season can become just a little less nightmarish and allow an accountant to concentrate on delivering the quality of service and experience required to underpin the trusted adviser status.