Self Assessment – Time Is Up Soon!

Ray Stewart General, Tax Matters Leave a Comment

The end of November is upon us, which means there are only 2 months left to file your 2009 Self Assessment Return by the deadline of 31st January 2010.

Two months sounds quite a long time doesn’t it?  I can remember when I was at school a summer holiday of 6 weeks seemed like a lifetime.  These days though, 2 months is the blink of an eye – or even less.

There is also the issue that lots of businesses shut down for some time over Christmas which limits even more the time available to work on their taxes.

[private_basic]If you are one of those who leaves taking your records down to the Accountant until the last possible moment, in some cases the last few days of January, just take a minute to think about why you do this.  Is it because you are putting off paying the accountant until the last possible minute?  Is it because you really don’t want to know how much you owe in tax because funds are short?  Or is it just a habit you have got into?

If this describes you, have you stopped to think about how much hard cash this way of dealing with your tax may be costing you?

Accountants are people too and try as we might, there are the die hard few who insist on leaving their accounts and tax returns until the last minute thinking they are the only people doing it that way – WRONG.  I try hard all year to keep people up to date but there are about 10% of clients who fall into this bracket.  However, we have finite resources.  This means that if a huge surge in work arrives in January, each client thinking they are being clever and the only ones who have thought of this strategy, it creates problems for me and my team.  The result is that we have to work longer hours, pay overtime and even draft in outsiders on occasion just to clear this backlog.  The client then wonders why their fee is two or three times the amount it would normally be if they acted rationally and brought their books in much earlier.  This is hardly an atmosphere to rely on all tax issues being picked up by us, or give us time to discuss and organize solid strategies for future tax planning.

There are also no guarantees the accounts and tax work will be completed by the deadline.  We are humans, not machines.

All I ask is that people in this category think again and realize the extra costs they incur and extra stress they try to transfer to their accountant.  You are responsible for any fines raised by the tax office – not your accountant.  So if you are thinking the excuse “The books were with the accountant in time” this won’t help you.

There is nothing to be gained at all by leaving your tax affairs until the last minute but serious benefits arise if you give us plenty of time.  For instance, the work isn’t rushed and therefore completed much more thoroughly.  All tax planning opportunities can be discussed at length.  You have plenty of time to organize your cash flow to allow payment of the taxes that are due and so remove the incidence of interest and late payment penalties.

So, do yourself a big favour, get your books and records to your accountant early – immediately after 6th April each year for preference – and allow us to give you the best possible service in a stress free relationship.


Ray Stewart
I am a qualified Certified Practising Accountant having passed my final exams way back in 1981. I actually can’t believe that was 37 years ago!! Anyway, I am now in my 60’s and I have been running my own business since May 1983. And before you ask, no, I have never regretted a moment of it! Part of the membership requirements of my professional body now dictate that I spend quite a lot of time on “CPD” - continuing professional education (one of their better ideas) - and over the last two years I decided to study business growth and marketing. I have learnt such a lot and that knowledge has radically changed my old “accountants” approach to business. It has made such a difference to the way I work and operate I feel that I just have to pass on this knowledge. It is simply too powerful to hold back!! - but I will try and do it in simple terms rather than expecting you to spend hours, as I had to, working through the difficult language that trainers seem to use to pass on their concepts. I hope you find the blog a useful resource and interesting place to visit as the months pass. I will do my best to keep up the flow - but if there are any topics you would like me to cover, then please let me know. Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart

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