The Practitioner: RTI is a real-time irritation for client billing

TO BILL or not to bill? That is the question.

Having survived the first month of the new tax year in the office and spent huge amounts of time making sure that all payroll client information is RTI compliant, the question on everyone’s lips is can we increase the bill to the client for all the extra work done?

We’ve made countless phone calls, emails backwards and forwards, checking employee addresses, NINOs, submitting test EAS and FPSs.

We only bill for payroll once a quarter, with the end of May being the next billing date. Should we perhaps interrupt this billing cycle and slip in a sneaky ‘RTI set-up’ bill instead?

If so, should this be a flat rate across all clients or increased for the larger payroll clients? I know the response we will get.

This is part of the problem with accountants is it not? Well, certainly within our firm…We are always scared stiff of upsetting clients and ultimately losing them.

Maybe this hasn’t always been the case – but in the past five years it is certainly more relevant than ever. Clients are more cost-conscious than they used to be, and it is proving harder than ever to make them appreciate the value of the service they receive. And on the other side of the coin, partners are more client-conscious than they have ever been.

The complexity of RTI however, may well give us a billing opportunity. After all, most clients don’t even know what RTI stands for.

We are constantly trying to look for ways to add value to clients while increasing fees at the same time, and we are probably guilty on this occasion of missing the obvious. Maybe it’s because payroll is generally not a good profit-maker that the RTI billing opportunity has been dismissed.

I wonder what the next thing will be that accountants will miss out on billing for, and how many things we have already missed?

I thought we were meant to be the ones who were good with numbers?

Maybe the only number we are concerned with is the number of clients we have…

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice – having left a regional firm in the heart of England


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