I know that I am supposed to write down my goals, but I don’t. I don’t often share them because they are mine. I like to think that I either achieve them, or in the trying, at least do better than if I had not. But late last year I set myself a goal and I missed it. I didn’t even come close.
I am always fascinated by the stats about when people file their self-assessment tax returns. I am intrigued by the number that file on Xmas morning or around midnight at New Year. There are usually around 3000 tax returns filed on Xmas day, and I decided that this year I was going to be a statistic, especially if I could manage it around lunchtime on Xmas day. I would have been one of a select group of taxpayers. Not only did I not manage it on Xmas day, but I missed New Year as well. I filed mine on a boring 30 January.
I wonder when Rishi Sunak files his tax return. Well, I do not suppose that he does file it. He will have a better paid accountant than me to do that for him. I would have expected him to be setting a good example (unlike me) and filing much earlier, given that he had been Chancellor of the Exchequer.
So, I read today that he will be publishing his tax return in the spirit of transparency. In the report I read earlier he will be publishing his return shortly.
You and I, when we file a tax return online, can print a copy quickly and easily. You may even still file your return on paper, in which case you are already one of a select few taxpayers who still do.
Why can Rishi Sunak not just hand over his copy of his tax return? What is still being done to it to delay publication? Real transparency would have been giving HMRC permission to publish his tax return. Does he file a tax return overseas? Questions, questions! It’s just that I do not understand the reason for the delay if he wanted to be truly transparent and there was nothing to cover up or disguise.
Just a few thoughts prompted by the article I was reading earlier.
The 2023 tax return season will begin soon enough. How many days have you got left to file your 2023 tax return, three hundred and fifty-something and counting!
On another tack, why do I think that this year will be so interesting? Well, for starters, everybody, almost without exception is saying that they cannot get staff, and that is not going to change anytime soon. Businesses that should have been able to capitalize on the post Covid bounce back, lack the human resources to do that and must reduce opening hours, reduce their offering and generally only mark time.
Costs are rising. Not only are wages having to increase in order to attract and keep staff, but overheads such as power, are at levels that sap the profit, the life blood, out of small and medium sized businesses.
There is a lot in the news about over 50s retiring early or just not wanting to go back to the working environment after Covid, but what about all the small business owners who shortly will be ceasing trading. From our experience, there are plenty of you who do not expect to be running your present business by the end of the year.
So, given all the above and more, what is our outlook on the future? After all we have been hearing about accountants locally not taking on any more new clients and others, thinking of retiring. That’s not us. We are open and hungry for new business. Staffing is certainly an issue but it is not insurmountable. Overheads are going up, that’s life. Even the current strikes affect us. When teachers go on strike, our staff have to stay home to look after their kids. It’s a minefield out there!
But we all have to carry on. If you are in business, there are always problems, they are just different this year. If everything is running smoothly, you just have not found out yet what has gone wrong. That’s just business, and as business owners your experience has instilled in you a certain resilience and that is what will carry you through. I accept that some businesses will no longer be viable in the world of 2023, but for the most part you just have to keep fighting, trying new things and surviving these “interesting” times as best you can.
I recently read that anyone who tries to live by a crystal ball, ends up eating ground glass. But it would be very interesting if we had a crystal ball even if all we could see was what our little part of the world looked like when we get to Xmas this year. Then again it’s probably better not knowing and then we can all go on in the belief that it will be better than it is just now. Blissful ignorance!
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership