We all know that the government would have you paying as much tax as possible. Ideally it wants self employed people to fill in their tax returns on their own so the bamboozling syntax and labyrinthine codes of tax law can do what they are supposed to do: do people out of thousands of pounds a year.
There is a slipperiness to all of this. On the one hand HMRC says it is there to help taxpayers understand its rules and it has, to be fair, made its online portal a lot more straightforward over the past few years. On the other hand it is disingenuous. If it and, behind it, successive governments, really wanted to make tax straightforward then they would simplify it so people don’t need to use accountants to make sure they aren’t overpaying tax.
As accountants, we hold a tension between bringing our clients into compliance with the law and making sure they don’t get ripped off by the taxman. HMRC likes to think we work for it, but we actually work for you. Yes, we have rules to follow, we have to make sure your tax is right and you’re not breaking any rules because that would have potentially criminal implications for you and us. But you don’t have to pay more than you have to pay and we are here to help you take it as low as possible.
This entails more than doing your accounts and tax return, and we have been reflecting on how best to meet this need among our client base of SME owners. Something obvious immediately springs to mind: the apartheid between SMEs and large corporate groups and multi-nationals in terms of the tax advice they have access to. Our clients can’t afford to pay someone a £50k or £70k salary to be their in house tax advisor. They don’t have the economy of scale for it. And, similarly, they can’t afford to have the partner of a Big Four firm on retainer for that one time they need to phone him.
In the past, that would be that, but not now. We operate as though we are that tax team you can’t afford, with experience in dentistry, that offers the same quality of advice that multi-nationals receive before they make business decisions. If there is something we can help you with we will action it exactly like your internal tax advisor would do. You pay us an affordable monthly retainer which is probably 10 times less than in-house advisors. What we are about is making sure you get the best level of advice that exists. That’s precisely the thing that independent business owners tend not to be able to afford.
The government doesn’t want you to have access to this kind of service. It doesn’t mind big corporations using the likes of KPMG and Deloitte because of the well known revolving door between the Treasury and the Big Four. Civil servants get very nicely paid jobs at the Big Four for selling their insider knowledge to corporate clients on how to avoid tax, and everyone gets paid (apart from normal taxpaying SME owners, who’s margins are further squeezed by this unfair and corrupt advantage).
So there you have it. If you want business growth like the big boys you don’t need handouts, or even to join their party, you just need tax advice that’s as good as theirs. And we have it.