Accountants split over self-assessment filing

Accountants split over self-assessment filing

Accountants are this week divided over the future of the Inland Revenue’s proposed system for the electronic filing of tax returns under self-assessment.

Robert Maas, chairman of the English ICA tax faculty’s technical committee, last week claimed the institute would boycott the system because of its inability to accept reams of accounts, spreadsheets and other information in tabular form. But John Whiting, head of personal tax at Price Waterhouse and a member of the profession’s self-assessment consultative committee, disagreed. He said: ‘This is not a new issue. The point is that you can’t send vast amounts and hope to cover yourself. If you send in a 60- page sale agreement, the Revenue wants accountants to highlight what it is they are supposed to be aware of.’

Robin Cooke-Hurle, managing director of software house Taxsoft, retorted: ‘This is like angels dancing on the head of a pin. The whole subject calls into question why we are making large investments in the administrative support systems for electronic filing. We remain committed to it, but question whether accountants will want to operate a dual system of electronic and manual filing.’

Tax advisers have failed to make the most of Inland Revenue efforts to educate them about the implementation of self-assessment, claims a leading expert.

The Revenue has welcomed 150,000 delegates to the seminars and workshops it has been running since September last year.

But Clark Whitehill tax partner Mark Lee said it could be double-counting attendance figures. He suggested the same people have probably attended both seminars and workshops.

Lee said: ‘The Revenue is doing its best, but accountants are not responding or attending in sufficient numbers. It’s very disappointing and accountants only have themselves to blame.’

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