There are a range of things for tax advisers to consider, particularly sole practitioners and principals in small firms, if you have not already done so, to manage office closures, remote working and potential sickness.
Our Professional Rules and Practice Guidelines emphasise that all members should have in place “a business continuity plan which would ensure the continuity of the business in the event of a serious incident such as fire, flood, major IT systems or security failure or terrorist incident.” While not specifically listed, a pandemic such as this is undoubtedly such an incident. No doubt most members have already dusted off such plans.
For example you should know the process for redirecting post and phones to a partner or principal’s home, in case the office has to be closed. You will need to make sure that, if you move to operating remotely, any data you possess is still being held and used in a GDPR-compliant way, outside the usual office environment.
One important thing to consider if you are a small practice is whether you have adequate arrangements in place for reciprocal working (e.g. with other local practices), in terms of putting an alternate in place if the sole practitioner or principal has to self-isolate or becomes ill. There is a link below to our guidance.
In addition, if you are having to change arrangements with your practice, it is worth contacting your professional indemnity insurance provider to check if there will be any impact on your cover.
The firms we supervise for anti-money laundering (AML) might need to reconsider how they undertake client due diligence where clients are not met face to face. Our professional standards team have published a new article providing further guidance. The AML team have moved to doing all their own meetings with supervised firms via phone and video calls.