New deadlines reveal no benefits

Software companies have been zealous in playing up the benefits of the new
self-assessment filing deadlines as a catalyst for reorganising practice work
processes and using technology to help accountants squeeze more out their firms.

They argue that any time made available for practitioners later in the year
through moving the deadlines could be used to provide services of a greater

Yet practitioners appear to disagree. The results of the profession’s study
into the effects of the new deadlines upon practice seem to reveal few benefits.
Of the 2,000 plus respondents to an online survey, 92% said the shorter filing
window would generate more paperwork due to the increased number of filed
provisional returns. More than half (52%) said this alone would lead to
additional costs and, of these, 66% would pass them on to clients.

Three quarters of tax advisers expect their total costs to increase as a
result of the proposals.

Paul Aplin, deputy chair of the ICAEW tax faculty, who helped co-ordinate
passing the results onto government, says that the potential for increasing
practioner costs for is much ‘higher than originally feared’.’Not only is there
a cost for the practitioner in handling amendments to paper returns, there is
also extra cost for HM Revenue & Customs,’ he added. Altering systems to
handle amended electronic returns was a ‘long way off’, he insists.

‘Both parties would need new IT, extra functionality. How would it work?
Would you overwrite the old document or access the document online and share it
with HMRC?’
Essentially, says Aplin, the results confirmed that practitioners could see no
cost savings for any party with the new deadlines, only a hike in costs.


• Difficulty in securing extra staff for peak filing period (ie volume):
• Difficulty in securing staff of the right level (ie quality):
• Risk of loss of staff because of the work pressure: 48%
• Cancellation of holidays for current staff: 71%

• Problems within the Working Time Directives: 50%

Related reading