Payroll and tax return experience


I am a MAAT licensed accountant and would like to add payroll and tax returns to my services but AAT say I need experience to be able to. I also work full time, how on earth can I gain experience?



  • CSan89CSan89 WiltshireRegistered Posts: 160
    Work experience at a accountancy practice? What is your current role?
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    I am an accounts assistant and havr worked in industry within accounts for 15 years but never had the opportunity to do payroll and never worked in a practice to do tax either.
  • CSan89CSan89 WiltshireRegistered Posts: 160
    How are you going to offer tax and payroll services if you have never done it?

    The best option would be to look for a job in a practice environment so you can learn these areas. Offering these services without any experience would be asking for trouble and could end up costing more than you would gain.
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    I have done a payroll principles course and from what people have said , payroll is easy.

    The optional units on tax on level 4 dont count as knowledge then?
  • CSan89CSan89 WiltshireRegistered Posts: 160
    They count as knowledge, not experience.

    Inputting payroll is easy and filling in tax returns is easy enough but that isn't why people pay an accountant to do their payroll/tax returns. It is the tax advice that comes with it.

    I have worked in practice for two years doing payroll and accounts production, done both tax modules on this years finance act and I would be uncomfortable charging people to do their tax returns because I know that there is alot more on tax that I don't know.

    I am currently studying ACA and there is 2 tax modules on the next level so I know that there is more Tax to learn than what I studied during AAT.

    Have you thought of studying ATT or CTA?
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    Yes I have thought about it but then what is the point in more studying as that still won't get me a licence in it.
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    Ok but if I study further that still won't be so seems silly to study more anyway! Without an opportunity to work in practice then there is no point or not much point in having an aat licence really. All the practice jobs always say must have practice experience, so I have no hope of even getting any experience.
  • CSan89CSan89 WiltshireRegistered Posts: 160
    Having AAT and Studying towards ATT or CTA would make your CV better than someone without.
    In the end, if they only have people with no experience replying to the ad then they tend to interview the next best.
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    No Mickdundee, I am just stating the facts!!! I am happy to study and do not have a problem with that but what is the point in spending all my time, effort and money on something that won't help me in my situation.

    People can do tax returns and payroll even though they aren't even qualified but I won't be able to even if I study further. I don't believe that studying further would help me gain employment in practice as AAT certainly hasn't, practices will not even look at you if you have not had practice experience and state that quite clearly on their job adverts and websites, maybe it is different from the area you live but not here in Devon it's not.

    I am also not in a position to gain employment as a trainee where they pay you the minimum wage or training wage as I have a house to run and need to pay my bills! I cannot afford to drop salary plus I am 34 not just starting out. I understand that AAT can't just grant licences willy nilly but I am asking how I can possibly gain the experience to do so. I think my best bet is to speak to other members in practice who offer these services in my area for them to mentor me or something as there are no other options for me at the moment.

    I don't know why you feel like you have to comment like you have, or that you are better than everyone else. You have totally misunderstood what I was asking and think you are being really rude and don't know who you think you are.
  • CSan89CSan89 WiltshireRegistered Posts: 160
    Sadly I think it is one of those situations where you will have to take a hit somewhere. Either your pay, spending money on a course/qualification or just accept that you can't do it.

    I'm sure that you are having to do CPD to keep your MAAT status so why not put those efforts into something that will get you to where you want to be?

    There are plenty of people that offer accountancy services without a qualification, doesn't mean they are good or successful. They tend to offer everything and deliver nothing.

    From your earlier discussions you started a bookkeeping business last year? How is this going?
    Are your clients asking for payroll/tax return services?

    Could you find a local accountant to have a business relationship with?
  • AAT_TeamAAT_Team Administrator Posts: 422
    @Jenbo Is it possible you can discuss this with your employer? Presumably they do payroll in-house and therefore you can gain experience with that team, providing you can manage some extra work.
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52

    I don't really want to go telling my employer that I am setting up a side business as they wouldn't like it very much. The director does the salaries on her own so not much chance of that either.
  • AAT_TeamAAT_Team Administrator Posts: 422
    edited February 12
    @Jenbo You don't need to tell your employer what your real motivation is if you think it would upset them. You could just say you have gaps in your knowledge and would like to develop your skills. Any employer worth their salt will welcome your pro-activity and desire to improve.
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    My employer is not what I would call a normal employer, it's a family business which has grown to a fairly big business but they do have strange ways about doing things and although we do have contracts, everyone seems to be different and treated differently. There is no hr dept as such either which does not help. Nothing stated in my contract which I signed but there is a tiny bit in the handbook which says something about other business etc.
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    @ AAT TEAM, the director that does the payroll works from home and never comes into work so that's not really something that would be possible. You would think that is how a good employer would receive this, but not too sure it would in my work place.
  • mergenmergen Just Joined Registered Posts: 77
    Why don't you look for another job then, as it was mentioned above?
    You sound like you like to moan a bit, instead of taking action or acting upon it!
    You need to create your own luck!
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    I have only been employed there for just under 2 years and before that changed a couple times before that. I don't want to keep changing as it doesn't look goof on cv and I just want to settle somewhere, plus I am not in a position of doing this as my husband has been very poorly for about 3 years and it is still ongoing so that isn't really a good situation to be changing jobs in. Nothing is as easy as it seems and all well and good people saying things but in reality it isn't.

    All I want is some other ideas of how to gain experience, the only way that seems obtainable at the moment seems to be another licensed member to mentor me as aat have said before.
  • mergenmergen Just Joined Registered Posts: 77
    @Jenbo its never easy. We all have problems/issues/difficulties, but it all comes down to how badly you want it.
    You were presented with options above yet you were quick to find reason/s to dismiss them.
    As the saying goes, unless you want to help yourself nobody will!
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    And everyone's situation is different. My husband has had 2 courses of major surgery, one life saving with another yet to go and I am being sensible on that front with changing jobs. My reasons are genuine and reality for me.

    This forum seems to be a place for people to have a go and make digs hence why I hardly use it.
  • CSan89CSan89 WiltshireRegistered Posts: 160
    Your original question was how to gain experinece and you have been given near enough every answer possible.

    I’m sorry to hear the your personal life is hard at the moment and I believe you are probably doing the right thing by staying where you are and concentrating on family. I did the same before starting AAT. Luckily I’m now in the position where I have enough time to study ACA, work full time and have a family life. (Who needs sleep)

    Maybe give it a year or two and look at studying again when your personal life isn’t as difficult.

    Have you been to any AAT branch meetings? A lot of them have payroll and tax CPD sessions which may help you on your way. Great for networking too and most importantly free :)
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    @CSan89, it's not so much the studying that is the problem as I completed aat whilst all this was going on, it's the practical experience that's the problem really. I have been to a couple of branch events and they were quite informative.

    I may have to just come to terms with the fact that I can't offer many services, even though most people wanting a bookkeeper also want payroll and small businesses/self employed also want tax returns.

    Thank you for your understanding response
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,419
    Some excellent advice given above.

    You are correct in that many clients you take on will want payroll and tax work.

    Experience is essential. There is no way around it. As you will no doubt have found from you current studies and work, that what you learn in a classroom only has some resemblance to what goes on in your job.

    If you are truly serious about wanting to run your own practice then you need to get out there and get the experience you need to deliver that. Life is hard and does get in the way. We have built our practice whilst raising 4 children. We started it aged 24 and built upon it from there. I took time to gain the experience needed first.

    Sit yourself down and figure out where you are heading. Then start with now. What will it take to get to where you want to go? Avoid doing things that don't help you to reach your goal. Make extra effort to achieve your goal as quickly as possible but in the best way possible too.

    Good luck

  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,013
    Do you have any friends or family that require payroll? Do it for them for free?

    Otherwise, you will probably have to attend a branch meeting and ask the chairman to announce to the delegates that you are looking for work experience.

    ATT will help in the CPD section of the payroll licence.

    I recently got payroll added to my practising certificate- I've been doing payroll for family for years and used ATT as CPD for payroll (Paper 3 Business Compliance).

    As others have said, you need knowledge and experience (not just experience).
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,013
    Coincidentally (?), AAT have just posted an excellent payroll article for anyone interest in payroll. Really good CPD if you want to clarify the PAYE tax position of the payment of damages/breach of contract to an employee:

  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    Thank you burg and reader.

    Off the back of this, do you think I will need to study the tax units in level 4 before I go on to do ATT, or does it not really matter as it covers it anyway? I didn't take those as my optional units but have bought all the text and question banks to study it as well.
  • JenboJenbo Registered Posts: 52
    And how long does ATT take?
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,013
    You can go straight into ATT. ATT (like AAT) is a 'lower' level course. If you like ATT you can progress onto CTA (to do CTA you need ATT or ACCA or some other equivalent first).

    ATT takes around 2 years if you do 1 exam every 6 months. Or 1 year if you do 2 exams every 6 months. It's made up of 3 x 3 hour exams + a couple of computer based tests (1 hour each).

    For example, you could be Paper 1 and Paper 2 in May, and Paper 3 and the 2 computer based tests in November and then you are qualified by the end of 2018.
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