Following the launch of the ATOL Reporting Accountants’ Scheme in March 2015, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced in April of this year that travel companies that hold an ATOL are now required to use an ATOL Reporting Accountant (ARA).
This might seem to be an unnecessary imposition by the authority, but not only are the sound reasons behind the new requirement, there are some real benefits for your business.
What does being ATOL certified mean?
An ARA certified accountant has demonstrated that they have specialised knowledge of the travel industry.
As a tour operator, you’ll know that the rules surrounding travel company accounts are far from straightforward. Even many qualified accountants may lack the necessary expert knowledge. An accounting failure could reflect on your business, and lead to extra costs or worse, through no fault of your own.
The CAA developed its scheme to ensure that accountants working with tour operators have a full understanding of the many issues, from foreign currency to hotel surcharges, that affect the industry. It is designed to ensure that the financial information being submitted on behalf of ATOL holders is accurate.
To qualify as an ARA, accountants must exhibit detailed understanding about the industry and ATOL’s specific requirements.
As a result, with an ARA managing your accounts, you know that the risks of false or inaccurate information being reported are kept to a minimum. So you enjoy extra peace of mind, your business has extra protection – and the risk of paying too much tax can be avoided.
What should you do?
If your existing accountant hasn’t been certified as an ATOL reporting accountant you will need to work with one who is.
This should be straightforward, but unfortunately, the CAA has indicated that take-up of the scheme amongst accountants has been very low. Some of those that are qualified appear to have recognised this, and are attempting to charge heftier fees as a result.
So, although an ARA certified accountant is an essential, and can guarantee you improved financial reporting, you’ll want to make sure you’re not paying over the odds for the service you’re receiving.
You can find a register of approved accountants on the CAA website and the good news is we here at Hillier Hopkins are ATOL certified.
For a non-obligatory consultation with an ARA-approved accountant, or to find out how else we can benefit your tour operator finances, please give us a call on 0330 024 3200. We’d be delighted to help.