What we do during tax return season

Jan 8, 2021

With self-assessment deadlines upon us, it’s a busy time of year for accountants all over the country and the same is certainly true for the property tax experts here at UK Landlord Tax.

The deadline for personal tax returns is 31 January 2021. Although we try to get as many client tax returns as possible filed well before that – ideally, in the summer and autumn of the preceding year – it’s inevitable that the work piles up around now.

That means a few late nights for certain, and probably some long working weeks, too. We’ll probably be ready for a bit of a break in February – let’s put it that way.

But in our own way, we enjoy the December-January self-assessment rush, too. It’s when all the work you do building a team pays off. Everyone works at maximum efficiency and supports each other with one aim in mind: to get the job done and do right by our clients.

When we say we’re busy, though, what are we actually doing?

Getting the details right

“I found your service excellent and supportive as this was my first time completing my tax return. They made the process smooth, efficient and easy, quickly responding to my queries and keeping me updated.” – Yvonne Castello, Luton

Being obsessed with detail is what people pay accountants for, really, which is why we can’t rush the process of completing client returns.

Every single tax return we process on behalf of a landlord, whether they’ve got one property or several, gets the same care and attention.

That means making sure we’ve got supporting paperwork for everything and that, if necessary, we’ve gone back to you for clarification or further information.

It’s also about making sure that, even under pressure, we’re never tempted to say, “That’ll do” or “Close enough”. In fact, I’ve never met anyone as focused on accuracy as Kevin, my fellow director and co-founder of UK Landlord Tax, and that filters through the whole of our company culture.

Fortunately, our collective experience, and some very well-tested processes and systems, means we always find the balance between accuracy and efficiency.

Spotting opportunities to save on tax

“The deadline was only two weeks away, but they handled my application quickly and professionally. I sent them the relevant documents, and they were able to find expenses which I had myself not even considered.” – Dildeep Singh, Leeds

Anyone can complete a self-assessment tax return, after a fashion; but it takes professional expertise to spot all the opportunities to reduce your tax bill.

The more time we have for this, the better – it’s why we like completing tax returns early, if possible. But even with only a few weeks to play with, part of the process for us is about shaking the tree to see what might fall out.

If we can find ways to reduce your tax bill, by claiming tax reliefs or deducting business expenses from your rental profit, we will.

So, in terms of what we’re doing in December and January, that means asking you questions and applying our knowledge of the latest legislation and HMRC policy.

Dealing with HMRC on your behalf

“A little hesitant at first as we were overseas but, my word, what a refreshing experience to find a company that was so helpful and considerate, and took time to listen to our concerns. Nothing too much trouble for them… they were magnificent in guiding me through what I considered to be a maze.” – Alan Jones

Our standard tax return service includes a commitment to handle routine queries from the tax authority.

In practice, that can mean debating the fine points of your claim, or helping to negotiate time-to-pay instalment plans for our clients.

It’s also about making sure the supporting paperwork for your tax return is as neat and complete as it can possibly be so that if HMRC decides to investigate further, we’ll be in a strong position to counter any substantial queries they might have.

Occasionally, there’s an additional challenge in smoothing the way for people with massively overdue tax returns. This can be a particular problem for so-called accidental landlords – first-timers who didn’t realise that their rental income might be subject to tax.

Our role here is to work out the total liability and make sure it’s presented to HMRC as promptly and accurately as possible. Remember, it’s always better to disclose unpaid tax yourself, via your accountant, than to let HMRC find out for themselves.

Prioritising efficiently

“I have used them for my small property business in the UK for the past four years… they provide quick, no-nonsense, good customer service and answer my questions promptly,no matter how small. Their prices are very competitive but I love the fact I can leave everything with them to sort out.” – Anthony Wilson

On top of everything else, we also have to make sure that we focus our time and energy on the right things.

That means planning and scheduling our work so that time-sensitive tax return work takes priority, while continuing to maintain our usual standard of client service.

That’s why if you call us in January with a routine query about something other than your imminent tax return, we’ll probably try to arrange a follow-up chat for some time after 31 January.

The good news is that if we’re handling your tax return, you can be sure we’re very much in the zone – thinking, eating, sleeping self-assessment until the last form is filed.

Contact us for help with your tax return next year, for the January 2022 deadline and check out more customer testimonials here.

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If there’s a property tax issue that has you puzzled or worried, get in touch. Everyone on our team loves to talk, especially when it helps people like you find peace of mind.