Anti-tax weapon

Under the new tax system of self-assessment due to begin next year, professional practices are at serious risk of paying more tax than necessary, according to a tax specialist at accountants Clark Whitehill. Moreover, because of fresh restrictions on the granting of "overlap relief", many may face a "tax bombshell" if they leave the business, wind it up, retire or die.

However, Mark Lee, a Clark Whitehill partner, says there is also an opportunity to maximise savings through changes of year-ends and the like. Not that such things are easy to work out. So enter the firm's secret weapon - "Cybertax". A computer program that calculates the best solution, it was originally devised for internal use, but has been sold to several hundred professional firms in less than a year. With a starting price of less than pounds 300, it cuts the work involved in assessing tax options from a week to an hour or two, Clark Whitehill claims. That should get them away from the video games.