TaxAdministrationChancellor has made a selfish assessment

Chancellor has made a selfish assessment

What do accountants and Essex strawberry pickers have in common?

Well, accountants could, in some circumstances, become seasonal workers, as
reliant on a short period of the year to make the bulk of their income as fruit
pickers.

That’s the claim of those who find themselves hopping mad at HMRC’s decision
to bring the self assessment deadlines forward by three months. The chancellor
announced in the Budget that the deadlines would be 30 September for paper
returns and 30 November for online.

The old timetable gave tax payers 10 months to get their affairs in order.
The new schedule will give them roughly seven. Whereas Christmas was once
blighted by the rush to meet the deadline, it will now be the summer holidays –
mostly. It would be nice to see government departments put their accounts in
order with such a short turnaround.

Though those accountants with children may find it more difficult to manage
the time between work and family, that’s really not the major point. The point
is simply that the change, in reducing the time available, risks a fundamental
reform of working practice for accountants.

Cutting the time to file returns by almost a third means accountants will
have to hire and fire on a more frequent basis, forcing contract workers into
much more flexible working patterns. Reduced time could also mean added pressure
which could mean cutting corners and introducing errors. Software companies are
licking their lips as they know advisers will turn to computers to fill the
gaps.

But perhaps the most galling aspect of this was how little consultation or
warning there was. The government, especially the Treasury, is again making a
name for itself as the department that fails to talk to the experts before
acting.

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