The second issue is taking a once-a-year approach to dealing with your tax advisor. There are many reasons this can be problematic. Rather than focus on them, I will give some examples of what we aim to give our clients. And by doing this for a fixed fee for being our clients (so tax returns are just one outcome), we encourage clients to talk with us at the time they have an issue that might cause problems.
A major issue is training. Years ago we were frustrated by clients delivering us accounts in a system, thinking they'd done all the work, only for us to have to re-do it in our system. Today we take the client's system as our starting point and make final adjustments to that. BUT that assumes the client's system is correct, so our role is to help them do the basic bookkeeping correctly during the year. We review client's systems with them (using TeamViewer if it's a desktop system) so they learn what mistakes they have made. If that occurs again we show them again, and if it occurs again we talk with them about things we might do to prevent it. Our fall-back position is for them to find another accountant. We want our clients to get things right - but if they do not take the same view then we would rather not waste our time - even if they paid a larger fee.
Of course, there are also unusual transactions. A common example is the trade-in of a company vehicle for a new one. This has a number of ramifications - loss or gain on sale, GST, FBT changes, interest in advance etc. Although it's not rare, it is outside the norm and we often find it easier to work through recording the transaction at the time with the client. Then the GST is handled correctly, and at year end all the information is in the system so we don't waste time trying to recall or work out what the different parts actually mean.
Then there are extraordinary events. This could be the death of a shareholder - or bringing in a new shareholder. It might change from a sole trader or partnership to a company. It might be a major transaction with a related party - maybe a trust or associated company. It might be accounting to a foreign government. Again the possibilities are endless. When they're left until the year-end, it is often harder to recall or find the correct details - or it may be too late to avoid expensive consequences. For example, shareholding changes have implications for losses carried forward, and for imputation credits.
That is why we are not interested in clients who want simply want a business tax return after year end. We love to help clients get the accounts right in their business, so they don't have to worry about trivial issues like taxes. To be able to do a good job we need clients to tell us about potentially significant events in their business before they are done. Discussion at year end only is asking for trouble. That's why our service is to be your accountant, rather than to merely to do your accounts. As your accountant, we are on your side.
If you've read this far and are feeling discouraged, there may be one piece of good news. if you are self-employed (without significant extra income), there is a cheaper (and more modern) option that could be worth considering. Read about Hnry, and see if it might meed your needs at an affordable price.