60 seconds with…Senga Prior


Senga Prior

Senga Prior


Tax expert, software trainer and policy influencer - this week we shine a spotlight on Senga Prior, a Tax Manager based in our Perth office.

So, what does Senga get up to in a typical day?

My role is largely focused on private client tax which involves - reviewing tax calculations, preparing and reviewing tax returns, making elections, looking for opportunities to claim tax reliefs, capital gains tax calculations and tax planning (including farmers’ averaging).  

Tell us a bit about your role at ATT and what this entails?

A few years ago, when I attended ATT's Scottish Tax Conference, an appeal was put out for volunteers to assist the ATT Technical Officers in preparing responses to HMRC consultations so I volunteered.

I really enjoy contributing to these responses, it’s a great way to keep up to date with changes on the horizon and an opportunity to influence legislation. I have had input on over twenty consultation responses to date, but I think the ones that I enjoyed the most, and really stand out, are 'The Extension of Averaging Period for Farmers’ Profits' and the 'Scottish Taxpayer Status', both incredibly important consultations for Scotland.

I was also recently elected to the ATT Council. I role I'm really looking forward to starting. It's a real honour to be elected and i'm delighted to be in a position to help guide the strategy and continue the tremendous work the Association does for the profession.

I really enjoy contributing to ATT responses, it’s a great way to keep up to date with changes on the horizon and an opportunity to influence legislation

Have you always been interested in tax as a career path?

I rather fell into tax. I had originally studied Maths and Computing at University with an aim to become a Maths teacher. After a year, I decided it was not what I wanted to do and so I got a job in the accounts department of a large plumber’s merchant. This laid the path for my accountancy career but it wasn’t until self-assessment was introduced that I thought a change to tax could be interesting!

Your clients are predominantly agriculture clients, how did you come to specialise in this sector?

I don't come from a farming background but I’ve been working in the sector for most of my career. While I was taking a break to start a family, a friend who had a farming secretarial business, approached me and asked if I'd like to come and work for her preparing farming accounts, payroll etc. She also had the Scottish franchise for a farming software company and knowing my IT skills thought that I'd be able to help support the farmers using the software and carry out training. That was in the days when hardly any farmers used computers - so we did not just sell the software we sold the whole package of hardware too! So, you could say I’ve been involved in making tax digital from an early stage!

This role taught me a lot about the farming community and I took this knowledge to my role at Bell & Co where I looked after a large number of their agricultural clients for just under 20 years.

Although HMRC have extended the start date for MTD it’s important to start preparing now

What are the hot topics for your clients at the moment?

Definitely the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD). Although HMRC have extended the start date for MTD it’s important to start preparing now for this significant change and we are helping our clients through this.

Brexit is also an issue and at the moment farming clients are hoping that their concerns are listened to. Finally, now that the Scottish Basic Rate Band is different to the rest of the UK, 2017/18 tax returns will be more complicated than before. 

What is the best bit about your job?

I enjoy the variety of clients I meet  - getting chatting and learning about their businesses and families. It's by doing this that you can spot opportunities for them and needs that they may not have realised they had.

The wealth of tax knowledge and expertise you can draw on across the firm means you can give the best service to clients

What might surprise people about your job?

Probably about how much time it takes to keep up with all the changes in legislation. When I started my tax career there were two red books of legislation.

Now there are eight - plus an index book! No one can possibly know it all in detail, that’s is why I was so glad to make the move to JC – the wealth of tax knowledge and expertise you can draw on across the firm means you can give the best service to clients.