“January” tax returns – my policy

January is traditionally thought of as the busy season for tax professionals.

Many taxpayers and advisers default to January. The 2016 HMRC statistics showed “…29 January was the busiest day with 513,271 returns completed – that’s more than 21,386 returns received per hour…”

It doesn’t need to be this way.

In my view, leaving it to January creates additional tax risk. Fortunately almost all of my clients wish to submit theirs before November.

My policy on January tax returns

Before I begin work on a tax return in January, my requirements are:

  • a copy of last year’s submitted tax return
  • a signed engagement letter
  • full details of all income and gains, with supporting evidence
  • a note of all assets, including non-income producing ones
  • my fee paid in advance and with a 25% premium on my normal rates
  • agreement to approve the tax return electronically on or before 25th January
  • all the above to be provided before 20th January

Avoiding the January rush

Other tips before getting near January are:

  • offer a discount for payment of fees in advance or in instalments
  • meet your client before August (go and see them, where their papers are kept)
  • encourage them to do the return themselves (the HMRC software is really good, although does not cover all taxpayers)
  • explain why their tax bill is that amount and how it might be reduced
  • cease to act
  • book a January holiday

If you require help in preparing and submitting your tax return in any month before January, and on making the process as quick and simple as possible, please contact me for my tips and advice.

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