Scope of work; advice and commercial software

As already mentioned you will need to plan before ‘putting the brass plaque up’ just who you expect your target client to be. You will have done that when deciding where to work and what premises will be best. What do you do best, what is your background and area of expertise?

Self Assessment for individuals

It will be a virtual impossibility to have all your clients’ information and have it processed by 31 October, so it will be essential to use some form of tax return processing software so you can continue working up until the 31 January internet filing deadline. There are many products on the market, including free software provided by HM Revenue and Customs. You may already be used to a particular one, but if not or want to change look carefully at the commercially available products and if you know people who are already in practice, ask what product they would use and if they would recommend it.

Self Assessment for companies

E-filing will soon be mandatory for corporation tax returns, computations and accounts, so you will almost be forced to purchase commercial software. HM Revenue have promised to offer a free version, but at the time of writing this is not yet available so it is not possible to comment on its practical use. The points for evaluating commercial products noted above for individuals, apply equally to corporation tax production software. So unless you are already familiar with a particular one and want to continue with what you know, then, it will be worth investing time into the product best suited to your requirements, budget and ease of use.

Payroll, P11Ds and health checks

Providing these services can often do wonders for boosting your clients impression of you and your firm, as well as adding to your fee income. It is quite surprising how many businesses still do not have a dispensation or are providing taxable benefits which are not being reported or are providing taxable benefits that could be structured more tax efficiently. Clients are also very good at blaming their adviser if something they do turns out to be taxable and is only picked up by an officer of HM Revenue and Customs along with a sizeable tax bill with penalties and interest. More surprises that clients don’t like and will ask why you have not picked it up. So as well as boosting your income in the first year, and at regular intervals every few years or so, if you have the skills and experience do ask to see their dispensation, or offer a review of their systems for recording expenses or benefits, as it could be good for both of you.

Other specialist services

Hopefully anyone who has come through the Institute's exams will have learnt that tax is not something that you can bluff your way through, and if you are not skilled in a particular area and have a detailed working knowledge, then some taxes are best left to the experts. Examples of such areas are as follows:

  • Trust and Estates
  • Value Added Tax
  • International tax
  • Investigation work
  • Capital Allowances
  • Share schemes
  • Share valuations

If your clients need advice in any areas in which you are not competent, do use a consultant and bring in specialist assistance, as mentioned earlier.