Now that January is behind us, it is a good time for accountancy practices to reflect on how personal tax season went.
It is no secret among accountants that the start of each calendar year is incredibly busy – even in 2022, despite HMRC’s extension of the self-assessment deadline. The quantity of work mounts up, and it’s vital that accountants look after themselves during that start-of-year rush. In addition, factors such as the punctuality of your clients and technological efficiency have a dramatic impact on your own productivity and wellbeing.
At Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK, we want to make a difference in the communities in which we operate. In keeping with that ethos, we believe the productivity and wellbeing of our customers are intrinsically linked. We’ve put together five vital tips for you to follow below.
1. Incentivise early submissions
We would advise you to consider how you communicate deadlines to your clients. If a client knows they can send you their information just before an HMRC deadline (and that you will work late into the night to ensure it is submitted on time), they may well do just that. Ensuring that deadlines are firm and clear can encourage clients to submit the required information in good time, so that deadlines for filing the return can be met. This can therefore help to prevent work being rushed, and also protect your own wellbeing.
2. Integrate tax and document management systems
Efficiency is key during tax return season, and the optimum driver is technology. You may want to consider using a hosted, fully integrated tax and document management system. This ensures that all parties can securely access returns and documents, whether they are working from home or the office. (CCH Personal Tax & CCH Document Management allow users to do these things.) You can also use online portals and document approval software to get tax returns signed off in seconds. These can then be efficiently submitted to HMRC.
3. Identify new ways of obtaining client information
In the event that your client is not submitting information in a timely manner, there are other options to examine. You could make use of information already held by HMRC in the client’s Digital Tax Account. (CCH OneClick users are able to view this information and send it directly into the tax return.) You might also consider collecting client information digitally. This enables you to review figures and information, and amend or query it accordingly. You can then send it automatically into the tax return, which saves time and reduces the risk of human error.
4. Take time for yourself
Even during the start-of-year rush, your productivity is not solely driven by hard work. Periods of rest and exercise are just as important in January and February as they are throughout the year. Little changes to your daily routine can make a big difference in preserving your productivity and wellbeing. For instance, you could take five minutes of each working hour out of your chair, and away from your screen. In addition, we’d encourage you to resist any temptation to substantially change your regular eating or sleeping patterns. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and maintaining a healthy diet will help optimise your productivity and wellbeing.
5. Change your surroundings
Your physical working environment has a clear impact on productivity and wellbeing. Research from NCBI shows, for example, that adding plants to your workspace helps to soothe and lower stress levels. We’d also recommend that you clearly separate your workspace from the areas you relax in, particularly if you are working from home. The urge to continue checking emails can become overwhelming. For that reason, you may want to consider developing a daily routine which signals the end of your working day. Even during the start-of-year rush, think about you could partition work from the rest of your life.
Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK supports accountancy practices navigating the workload and the pressures of personal tax season. Our employees work side by side with our customers to create solutions that address the rapid changes in their environment. We’ve designed our solutions to make your working life smoother, support your wellbeing, and help you offer a high-quality service to your clients. To find out more about how we can support you, click here.