Meeting the self-assessment deadline with remote teams
With the busy tax season drawing nearer, there are typically the same burning questions: Will this year go better than last year? How can we improve? This year there are some new questions to answer: How is 2020 going to be different? How will remote working affect our efficiency and our ability to meet the deadlines? One thing is for certain is that it will be like no other.
2020 has shown the accounting industry the importance of technology and agility in an ever-changing climate. This period of remote working has accelerated the drive to digital transformation where practices have seen the need to be set up to work remotely and collaborate securely with clients. Making it through the next tax season relies on theses digital tools, even under normal circumstances with everyone in the office.
Understanding how you will meet your self-assessment deadline on 31 January – with remote teams and the associated challenges in mind will be an important question to answer upfront.
The early bird gets the data
Difficulties around collecting data can be magnified during this time. There are new challenges to contend with where practice employees working remotely means they may not always have the data to hand that they need, when they need it. This can delay the data gathering process and make it harder for clients to send necessary information across.
The key is to start the process early.
Your clients working from home might have some advantages this year. When clients spend all day every day at the office, they don’t typically have easy access to the information they need to complete their personal tax returns. Whilst they’re currently more likely to be at home, take advantage of those records being closer to hand and perhaps, being able to encourage them to provide them more quickly using our digital data collection tools.
It is also worth looking back on previous year’s tax returns identifying clients who have repeatedly missed data collection deadlines before and start the process with these clients as early as possible.
Digital tools that securely facilitate the transmission of documents and data are invaluable in these situations ensuring the relevant information can be exchanged regardless of the location of the sender or the recipient.
CCH OneClick has the tools you need to make this happen. The Digital Data Request allows your clients to understand what information is required to assist with the completion of their tax return. Clients can enter the values needed and upload supporting documents such as P60s or property income spreadsheets quickly and efficiently from their laptop or mobile. This in turn becomes available to you in real-time to review.
The data submitted by your clients can then be sent straight to CCH Personal Tax thanks to the integration with CCH OneClick, saving time and avoiding human error.
Review and approval from clients
Once your data has come in from the various sources it will be time to review the information submitted.
This year it will be even more important to ensure this happens speedily. The more returns that can be closed off earlier, the more time to chase those clients who may be struggling with data submission or even changes in circumstances.
Access to HMRC's Digital Tax Account information can really help during this process. HMRC only populate the Digital Tax Account when that information becomes available (historically in September at the earliest). However, having that information and having the tools to easily cross reference the information from HMRC against the information provided by the client can greatly speed up the data collection process.
If this information is linked to your compliance tools (as it is with CCH Personal Tax and CCH OneClick), then you will be able to automatically populate the tax return with this information. This frees up time to deal with other clients who may be late in submitting their data.
Once this information has been collected, you may need to obtain your clients' approval prior to submitting.
Digital tools will be key to a remote approval process. This can be done by simple approval features or digital signature tools. Which tool you use may depend on your own internal processes in house or the preference of your clients.
One such tool is CCH OneClick’s Messages & Documents functionality which allows any documentation created for a client to be easily sent securely and confidentially. Clients in turn can approve documents through the system and respond to any messages received.
Some of these manual tasks can even be automated by the tools themselves: Chasing late clients can be automated; when the Tax Return has been reviewed and is ready to be sent to your client, why not have it automatically sent and once marked as approved by the client it can be submitted to HMRC without having to access the Return again.
Keeping an eye on the time
Though the payment deadline for July 2020 was extended - there is no guarantee that there could be a similar extension to the 31st January deadline. Therefore, it is important to keep a close eye on your client’s liabilities and remind them when those liabilities fall due. All achievable at the click of a button within CCH Personal Tax and CCH OneClick.
What if there were digital tools that, when used together, not only reduced the time needed to complete tax returns but also made it easier for your clients to submit the relevant documentation on time? Even better, what if these tools gave you control and visibility over your clients’ progress? You can find out why combining CCH OneClick and CCH Personal Tax will save your next tax season here.