The self assessment filing cycle for 2015 ends next week. For over twenty years this ground rush of activity has plagued professional activity (and made January one of the best billing months of the year).
Can you remember the advent of Self Assessment? The legal framework was first introduced by the Finance Act 1994. Can you remember the halcyon days prior to this date, when filing a tax return was optional? After all, if the Schedule D or E assessment was accurate, passed muster, why bother?
Now, we operate in a more rigid, penalised structure – file or else!
This does offer certainty to clients; the SA return is a complete picture of an individual’s tax position. Nowadays, tax software not only generates the form it also facilitates online filing, and more importantly, it calculates liability.
We are in danger of becoming a profession that is driven by filing obligations. We are paid, are we not, for taking on this responsibility? Our clients sleep at night while we burn the midnight oil (especially at this time of the year).
And yet, it is not the fulfilment of these repetitive tasks that assists business growth or minimises the impact of the fiscal legislation or any one of a number of pro-active services that would benefit clients.
It is worth remembering that there is no legal imperative requiring HMRC to advise taxpayers, their so-called customers, how they could reorganise their affairs in order to save tax…
Professional life, after all, is not just about meeting HMRC deadlines. Or is it?