Four things we learned from AAT Annual Conference

Four things we learned from AAT Annual Conference

The AAT Annual Conference took place last week, bringing together 300 accounting professionals from across the UK to discuss the critical issues facing accountants in 2018

The AAT Annual Conference took place last week, bringing together 300 accounting professionals from across the UK to discuss the critical issues facing accountants in 2018, from tax issues to the future of accounting. Here are five key highlights from the event.

1. The benefits of data analytics

Sam Ellis, head of operations and finance at InterWorks Europe, presented a session on the benefits of data analytics, highlighting the limitations of Excel compared to the advantages of modern tools. He outlined a number of questions individuals should consider before investing in data analytics tools, including: what analytics do you want to carry out, what are the results expectations, and who are you sharing the data with?

Ultimately the major advantage of switching to a data analytics tool is automation, leading to less time spent on manual tasks.

2. Don’t be threatened by automation

Ellis said that accountants shouldn’t consider automation a threat, but rather something that will allow accountants to eliminate repeatable tasks, saving time and adding value and efficiency. Analytics tools also allow accountants to slice and explore data, connect to lots of different data sources, and make data attractive to the person viewing it.

Ellis said that accountants should bear the following in mind:

“Technology isn’t taking over, it’s taking place

Technology won’t replace us, it will improve us.”

3. Making Tax Digital is going ahead

Oliver Fisher, deputy director of Making Tax Digital (Business) Strategic Design & Policy, said he was “absolutely confident of hitting the April 2019 deadline” for VAT.

Fisher said that they were ready to deliver in April 2018, despite the delay announced last year.

“That should give others confidence we can deliver to the dates set,” he said.

4. Tax clinic solves tax problems

Michael Steed, head of tax at BPP professional development, ran a tax clinic at the conference, looking into participants’ tax queries and issues.

Among the problems solved were whether a director of a company has to automatically complete a tax return; and the tax implications of a client retiring to France.

For the former query, Steed said that according to the law, a return must be submitted if one has been issued by HMRC, but there is no statutory basis for a director to file a return.

If a director has other notifiable income, it falls within the scope of self-assessment.

Steed referred individuals to the HMRC employment manual EM4551, which states: ““There is no requirement to notify chargeability where there is no liability to Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax or where sufficient tax has been deducted at source to meet the net liability for the year”.

The AAT conference took place in Windsor on 7-8 June.

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