Tax return deadlines – how accurate is your database?

With the tax filing deadline approaching (rapidly), more and more firms are becoming relaxed and even taking holidays in January, having filed all their tax returns already. However, there are still significant numbers of practices that are all hands to the pump.

Our tax software automatically marks a return as having been filed with HMRC. It is therefore possible to generate a report of tax returns outstanding. However, this is not as flexible as it could be. It is not possible for instance to run a report with the allocated partner and/or manager alongside the name. Most staff will have generated a filtered list of just those they are responsible for as manager, which is all very well as long as the client has been configured correctly in the first instance, and the “partner” and “manager” fields have been completed. Had we been able to show these on the full report, any “blanks” would be easily visible. The only option is to resort to an external program to interrogate the underlying tax database to search for these unallocated clients. Alternatively, the whole list needed to be printed, then matched to individual lists to identify the clients not appearing on individual lists – very time consuming!

This year, when run, there were 5 that were not correctly configured, and therefore could have been in danger of falling through the net.

This is just one of many databases in the practice, and, like any database, if it is not maintained correctly, a false position, and possibly costly errors, can arise.

There are a few areas on the tax database where users need to both think and act. Someone needs to look at the “big picture”.

Chances are that there are some clients on the list that only commenced in business or letting etc starting in the current 2019/20 tax year so don’t need to file a 2018/19 return but have been set up on the system. This is a “user” issue, not ticking a box to say that a 2018/19 return is not required.

There may also be some clients that have chosen to submit their own returns, although they had not told us. The first port of call is to check the online systems with HMRC to see if a return has indeed been filed. Again, the user needs to take some action to prevent it still appearing on the returns due for filing list!

Similarly, clients may no longer need to submit returns, so these also need to be actioned to prevent them appearing. The partner or manager may be aware of this, but those looking at the “big picture” will probably need to investigate why clients are still on the list and take remedial action.

Anyone have the same (or other) issues at this time of year?

  • Completely agree Kevin - well said! Tax professionals cannot 'switch off' and assume the technology will always be 100% right.

    We always think about review processes, 4-eyes & the like, when it comes to manual processes but then assume a single tech solution has to be perfect. Formalizing the reviewing technology process makes total sense, and will help to avoid costly mistakes whilst providing time effective review.