5 tips for working with your accountant during Self Assessment season

Self Assessment 2017/18 checklist

This article was written by FreeAgent’s Content team and our Chief Accountant, Emily Coltman FCA.

If you work with an accountant, it’s likely that your relationship with them is going to be more important than ever in the run-up to the Self Assessment tax return deadline of 31st January. Here are some tips to help you work effectively with your accountant during this crucial time of year.

1. Prep your paperwork

In order to file a Self Assessment tax return on your behalf, your accountant requires details of all your business income and costs for the accounting year in question. This includes sales the business has made and costs it has incurred, including expenses that are allowable for tax relief. Your accountant may ask you to provide evidence of these incomings and outgoings in the form of receipts, invoices, bills from suppliers and other relevant documentation, such as bank and credit card statements.

Be sure to provide everything that you’ve been asked for, and let your accountant know straight away if there’s any information that you can’t locate. If you use accounting software like FreeAgent to record your business income and costs throughout the accounting year, you’ll be able to share the data with your accountant easily in the approach to the Self Assessment deadline.

2. Check, check and check again!

Make sure all the information you share with your accountant is as accurate as possible. If you use spreadsheets or a manual method to record your business income and costs, double-check the dates and values of your transactions against the relevant receipts, invoices and supplier bills.

Make sure all the information you provide relates to the accounting year that your accountant has specified. If you use accounting software, your data will be recorded in the correct accounting year automatically.

3. Get your records in as early as you can

While the deadline for Self Assessment is 31st January, you should aim to get the required information to your accountant far earlier. Bear in mind that your accountant is likely to have other clients and many of them may wait until just before the Self Assessment deadline to submit their information - so do your accountant a favour and get yours to them as soon as possible.

Your accountant will no doubt appreciate it, and if they require more documentation, you’ll have plenty of time to provide it without the risk of missing the Self Assessment filing deadline and incurring a penalty.

4. Trust your accountant

You may have been around the business block a few times, and might even feel quite confident about the Self Assessment process. Regardless of your experience, it’s important to trust your accountant to be able to do their job in this hectic period. As uncomfortable as it might feel, once you've submitted your information, trust your accountant to take care of it and resist the urge to start chasing them immediately.

5. Be patient if you have other queries

Accountants experience their busiest time during ‘Self Assessment season’, so if you have a query that doesn’t relate to your tax return during this period, you may need to have a little patience. It’s possible that they might not come back to you quite as quickly as usual. They may also suggest waiting to discuss the issue until the 31st January deadline has passed. 

If you have a pressing query during December or January that isn’t related to Self Assessment, be sure to make your accountant aware that the matter is urgent. And if you have a question that can wait until after the Self Assessment deadline has passed, it might be a good idea to wait until February to raise it.

Interested in working more effectively with your accountant? FreeAgent’s accounting software allows you to work on your finances together online.

Disclaimer: The content included in this guide is based on our understanding of tax law at the time of publication. It may be subject to change and may not be applicable to your circumstances, so should not be relied upon. You are responsible for complying with tax law and should seek independent advice if you require further information about the content included in this guide. If you don't have an accountant, take a look at our directory to find a FreeAgent Practice Partner based in your local area.