It’s this time of year when we hear horror stories from our clients’ past about their former accountants messing up. 

Inaccuracies, especially during the self-assessment season, can leave you scrambling to fix your return at the last minute.

We don’t wish any accountant to stumble out the gates, but what should you do if they do? And who’s liable for any mistakes they make?

Here’s what you should do if your accountant makes a mistake.


Who’s liable?

Even though you’ve paid for their services and placed your trust in your accountant, the bad news is that any mistakes on your self-assessment or any other official paperwork will be your liability.

As HMRC views your accountant as an ‘agent’, it means that they are seen to be working on your behalf. So, it’s still your responsibility to ensure you’re compliant with all tax laws and regulations.

If you incur fines and penalties for either a mistake or a missed deadline, you’re the one who’ll have to pay, so you cannot afford any room for error.


Contact HMRC

Owning up to a mistake as the one in charge is the best course of action for most instances in business, and tax errors are no different – even if it ultimately was your accountant’s fault..

As soon as you’re aware of an error, you should get in touch with HMRC. If you’re honest from the beginning, HMRC will be more lenient towards you and will take your assistance into consideration when deciding on a penalty. 

If you’ve missed a deadline due to a mistake by your accountant, you may be able to set up a time-to-pay arrangement with HMRC, giving you that extra space to pay off your bill.

If you don’t disclose the errors or try to cover them up, you’ll find yourself facing the harshest penalties possible, so being proactive and honest is essential.


Talk to your accountant

This may seem obvious, but if your accountant has made a mistake, you should be upfront with them. You may feel uncomfortable with the confrontation, but at the end of the day, you’re paying for a service that is below par. 

Not only that, but you’re potentially spending even more money for a mistake that you haven’t personally made.

Any decent accountant will be able to explain the mistake and tell you how they’ll resolve it. If this doesn’t happen, you’ll need to consider making a formal complaint.

Either way, you should trust your accountant to get everything right the first time and, wherever possible, to be saving you money rather than costing you money.


Find another firm

If all else fails and you’re unsatisfied with how your accountant has handled their mistakes, there’s nothing stopping you from finding another firm in which you can place your trust.

Once you’ve made the decision to end your working partnership with your accounting firm, you should be open and honest with them, informing them of why you’re leaving. 

Before you do that, it’s usually best to find another firm to work with, especially if you run a business, as you don’t want to have a cross-over period and have to take on the extra work yourself.


We can help

If your accountant makes costly mistakes on your paperwork, don’t feel like you’re stuck with that firm forever. You have options out there, ones that won’t result in you having to spend more money than necessary.

Since 1943, we’ve worked closely with a wide range of clients to ensure they’re following HMRC compliance and to help them feel supported. We’d be happy to help you too.

If you’re considering switching accounting firms, get in touch with our friendly team.