Tax busy season in a pandemic – the hardest of all?

Tax busy season in a pandemic – the hardest of all | Tax busy season in a pandemic – the hardest of all?
By Jenny Strudwick | 1st October 2020 | 8 min read

Busy season is, by definition, always tough.

But busy season during a pandemic? This could be the hardest one of all.

Normally speaking, practices would’ve been taking certain steps and doing some of the work leading up to busy season well in advance.

However, with all the extra work involved in providing support and advice to clients to keep hard-hit businesses afloat, it wouldn’t be surprising if accountants hadn’t found time to lay all of the key groundwork yet.

If accountancy firms have furloughed some of their staff, they may be even further behind.

What does this all amount to? Potentially, a massive backlog of work building for the end of this year and an even more hellish early 2021 – as if January isn’t already stressful enough usually.

What steps could reduce the stress and strain?

1. Outsource routine accounts work

Firms struggling with a lack of resources may understandably be reluctant to hire new full time employees in this environment, but what about outsourcing? You could temporarily acquire trained staff able to complete routine accounts work for a short period without the cost of hiring.

2.  Speed up tax return approvals

Slow approvals could be even more of a problem than usual this year. E-approvals can be a great option to speed things up. With the desire to avoid unnecessary mailing, due to concerns over COVID transmission, the electronic alternative is even more attractive. Plus, it meets data protection law requirements – unlike email.

In previous Januaries, we’ve seen more than 217,000 e-approvals made via IRIS OpenSpace.

3. Automated deadline reminders and reports

With so much going on, keeping track of deadlines is even more troublesome. Nobody wants a £100 fine for a late tax return. Automating the process can relieve this particular headache. Software can help by generating reports on exactly how and when many returns have been completed, filed, or are not finished.

4. Speed up payments

We know that late payments has been a problem for accountants already during the pandemic. Some 42% of those surveyed for our report say they have struggled with getting paid on time. A service that gives your customers a secure and simple way to pay you online can help to ensure you’re paid faster.

How can accountancy software help?

The above tips are just a few ideas to cut down the burden of busy season and the good news is that IRIS software and services can help on each and everyone. There are many other ways as well. Want to learn more? Our team, who are highly experienced in helping accountants cope with busy season, would be happy to talk to you.

Call 0344 844 9644 or email

About the author

Jenny Strudwick

Senior Product Manager

Jenny is Senior Product Manager for Tax at IRIS. She has been with IRIS for over 18 years working across many different departments including Support, Engineering and now Product Management. During this time she has been instrumental in major tax changes from FBI to iXBRL and now MTD. Jenny works closely with HMRC on major changes in taxation especially now as they develop their MTD strategy. Prior to joining IRIS, Jenny spent a number of years in practice and has now accumulated over 21 years’ experience in UK taxation.