Housekeeping after the January madness

Now is the ideal time to reset your practice for the year ahead

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While dealing with some of the final tax returns during the extended deadline announced by HMRC, remember that the bulk appeals facility will be available for Covid-related reasonable excuses for late filing.

Practitioners should also be considering doing their house-keeping for practice compliance rules. 

Client management

A good starting point is tidying up your clients’ information and looking at your practice management.

Current clients:

  • ensure all engagement letters and consent forms for current clients are up to date and relevant for the services provided
  • check you are charging enough fee for the services you provide – very important
  • consider sacking problem clients who are unappreciative of your advice and constantly complaining about your fees levels or failing to provide information on a timely basis or are abusive to you or your staff.

Previous clients:

  • terminate services on the practice management for clients you have ceased to act for and ensure that HMRC authorisations are removed for these clients
  • double-check they have moved their registered office if they were otherwise using your registered office services
  • all records are returned and there are no unnecessary ones clogging up the storeroom.

Elsewhere in this issue of In Practice, our article on the disengagement process summarises the main actions you need to take.

Review AML procedures

ACCA-supervised firms play a critical role in detecting and preventing money laundering and terrorist financing (MLTF). You need to ensure that you have reviewed your firm’s policies and procedures and they are all up to date with the changes that happened in the practice during the year. CCAB advises to carry out periodic review on your clients’ due diligence and keep a record of it for any compliance visits.

ACCA's AML guidance includes latest guidance, a suite of factsheets, coupled with a risk-assessment tool, 'know-your-client' form, training support which will ensure that you operate a robust system when dealing with clients, both at the onboarding stage and throughout your relationship.

Year-end planning

Next on your list should be to start planning your March year-end company accounts. Depending on the services you provide to your clients, clients often require your proactive advice for:

  • capital spends for AIA claims (more importantly super-deduction which ends on 31 March 2023)
  • bonuses for their executives and management team
  • pension contributions
  • dividend planning
  • P11D implications for directors overdrawn loan account
  • business restructuring
  • tax efficient investments
  • R&D claims.

You need to start arranging dates in your diary to see these clients so there is sufficient time to implement these decisions before the year end.

Individual tax planning

A similar planning exercise can then be undertaken for high earner individual clients. You may need to check:

  • whether they should put extra money into their personal pension accounts to avoid paying higher taxes and to minimise the loss of their personal allowances
  • pension could also be utilised for clients receiving child benefits, to reduce their child benefit tax charge
  • for joint rental properties owned by civil partners or a husband and wife, see if they need advice in order to make some elections to transfer a larger share of their property to the other half to maximise the family tax savings; however, legal advice should be sought before any elections are made
  • independent financial advice should be pursued before making any financial commitments
  • eligibility to claim marriage allowance. Where one spouse/civil partner is a basic rate taxpayer, and the other has income below the personal allowance, the latter can transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse/civil partner resulting in tax relief of up to £252 in the current tax year
  • if your client can claim trading and property allowances. These are two separate £1,000 tax-free allowances available: one for trading and miscellaneous income, and another for income from property
  • if your client rents out part of their main residence, up to £7,500 of income from the letting will be tax-free if rent-a-room relief is claimed
  • if your client is aware of annual IHT-free gift allowance. It includes annual gift of £3,000, small gifts of £250 per person as many as you care to make per tax year


Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) is coming for the period beginning 1 April 2022 for all VAT registered businesses even where their turnover is less than £85,000. Ensure:

  • your clients are using an MTD compatible software for the filing VAT returns
  • ensure you have set up HMRC Agent Services Account (ASA) (if not done already)
  • once you have received your new HMRC gateway login details, you need to start registering your affected clients for MTDfV (this does not mean you have to apply for a separate 64-8 authorisation if you already have one in place that should suffice).

If you are doing VAT returns through MTD first time, you may find the ACCA guide to MTD: how to file a VAT return useful for your reference. Full HMRC guidance can be seen in VAT notice 700/22.

ACCA's Making Tax Digital for VAT: FAQ includes various questions which you may wish to refer to for practical tips. 

Practice growth

Last but not least, you should also consider how you can make your firm stand out to clients, potential clients, recruits and those you may wish to influence.

Remember you can take and use articles from In Practice and utilise ACCA guides and other support material to grow your own practice.

You may wish to join the Practitioner LinkedIn group and access The Practice Room for latest updates.