Businesses have long relied on their accountant to provide expert services when it comes to the health of their finances. Historically, those services have been focussed on compliance and tax, ensuring businesses and owners meet their obligations with minimum stress.
As we move swiftly into the second half of 2020, accountants are now facing an unprecedented practice landscape; their clients need more advisory support than ever in navigating a strange new business world. Take a look at how the practice accountant’s role has been challenged by 2020.
Coronavirus changes everything
This year has accelerated the change of role for accountants in practice to that of a strategic advisor. Many businesses faced uncertainty and dramatic changes to their financial plans when the country entered lockdown in March, with the Chancellor providing a raft of support measures to help the economy weather the storm. From furloughing employees to self-employment grants, we’ve been regularly reporting updates to our customers.
As soon as HMRC confirmed details of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, our development team worked overtime to update SA Solution with a brand new report which allowed accountants to identify their clients who are eligible for the scheme. The introduction of the SEISS was a perfect example of the evolution of the practice accountant from financial guru to strategic advisor.
For employers who have had to furlough staff, it’s been essential that they carefully follow HMRC’s rules – and their accountants have the know-how and expertise to help them avoid potential fines. As HMRC now transitions away from the core Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and shifts focus onto the retention bonus, businesses will again need help navigating the rules and regulations in place.
Obligations never change
Despite a few changes to payment dates, generally reporting requirements have remained steady throughout the last five months. UK businesses welcomed a deferral of VAT payments for the period between 20th March and 31st July. However, not everyone was aware that they still needed to submit a return to cover obligations that fell within those dates. At BTCSoftware, we used our social media and email channels to highlight the requirements of the VAT deferral initiative, and many of our customers used the same methods to communicate with their clients.
HMRC also provided the option for the self-employed to defer their second payment on account to 31st January 2021. While this is helpful for those whose income has been heavily impacted by Coronavirus, they may not be aware that they also must make their first payment on account for 2020/21 by the same date. Accountants, therefore, will play a vital role in the coming months to help their clients prepare for January 2021 – for example, helping them to apply for a Time to Pay installment arrangement or setting up a budget payment plan.
Moving into Self-Assessment season
The Chancellor’s support for the economy throughout the pandemic means that this Self-Assessment season is likely to see accountants busier than ever, so preparation should begin well in advance.
We will soon release our annual guide to help accountants prepare and navigate through to the end of January – keep an eye on our LinkedIn page so you don’t miss it. SA Solution is a powerful tool that eases the administrative burden on our customers and our focus as a company is now on developing our Self-Assessment software to ensure that we continue to support accountants in their efficiency – leaving them with more time to focus on developing their advisory services.
Cloud is key
This year has seen a record number of our customers moving their database into the cloud. Adding remote access to their client data has been the biggest motivator for accountants, and Cloud Solution supports that requirement which is now all-but-essential for many practices. Our UK based Amazon Data Centre servers also give peace of mind when it comes to data security and backups, meaning less time spent worrying about the essential daily maintenance of software systems.
Self-Assessment from BTCSoftware
If you’re looking for a way to make Self-Assessment easier on yourself, we can help! BTCSoftware’s SA Solution gives you easy and efficient returns, freeing you up to focus on helping your clients plan for their tax bills.
Why not book a demo? Our solution experts will take you through our award-winning software during a one-on-one remote session and answer all of your questions.
Talk to us
Any questions? You can get in touch on 0345 241 5030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org