As software evolves to meet new legislative requirements so accountants assume this will be built into the price they pay for their software.

There is little prospect of accountants asking clients to pay extra – or of them securing additional fees if they did ask!

Equally, accountants will not willingly pay extra for updates of their software if these simply enable them to ensure that clients comply with their legal obligations. Thus suppliers will have a hard job on their hands to persuade existing accountancy users to pay extra.

In practice the only community who can seriously be expected to bear the development costs, if not the developers themselves, will have to be new users; – perhaps those who migrate away from competitors , as well as those who are computerising for the first time.  This is unusual as normally it is the pioneers who pay a premium for the privilege of being the pioneers and at the forefront of new developments. Have newer users in recent years been paying as much as those pioneers for their accounting and tax software? I guess not. So can those who have been putting off their move to online filing be expected to pay more so that the software developers can recoup their investment? Or will the only losers be the shareholders and owners of the developers? They have no choice but to invest in the new developments.

I said earlier that few accountants will successfully persuade clients to pay a surcharge to cover the costs of introducing new software. Some firms tried that in 1997 when self assessment was introduced. In most cases clients rebelled and accountants had to absorb the cost of introducing new software. This time round it is likely to be the software suppliers who bear the costs. Sorry guys!

What do you think?