You can almost hear the collective sigh from professional firms as they face up to the count down – 123 days to 31 January 2016: to the filing deadline for the 2015 SA returns.
Every year, the same old chestnuts appear on our lists “records not in yet”. Despite various inducements, including the possible threat of fee increases, certain clients still dump their carrier bag of paper work on our desks at the last minute; which means, yet again, we have to work like fury to meet the January filing deadline.
OK, there are compensations; cash flow in February/March will be lively as January’s billing drifts in, but the cost…
And does the threat of increased fees really make a difference? Do the tardy clients get their acts together and bring in their records in a timely manner the following year?
What about a different approach. What about an incentive, a carrot not a stick?
It may seem counter intuitive but why not contact all your clients who are required to file a SA return and advise them that from April 2016 your fees for filing a return are being increased by say 25%. That will grab their attention. Follow the announcement with the following explanation:
“The increase in our fees for the preparation and filing of self assessment returns is, in part, to help us meet the increasing costs of filing returns, particularly in the latter part of the filing cycle leading to the 31 January deadline.
To recognise clients who submit their information in a timely manner, prior to 31 October following the end of the relevant tax year, we will discount these fees such that no increase will be made – you will continue to pay at the current rates.
Clients who delay, and present their information after the 31 October cut-off, will pay the new scale of fees from next year, for the 2015-16 return.”
Who knows, perhaps Christmas and New Year 2016-17 you could relax knowing that SA returns were fairly up to date, and even those who continued to file late would be paying a realistic fee.