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The History of TaxAssist

The History of TaxAssist

While working in practice in 1995, John Westgarth FCA saw an opening in the market place, when he figured out that small businesses would need help with their accounts in the wake of introduction of tax self-assessment. He anticipated that the demand for such a service would be ideal for a franchise network, and TaxAssist was formed in the UK. Following a period as a partner in a national firm of Chartered Accountants, John went on to build up and sell on a number of accounting practices over a 20-year period. He made use of his experience and knowledge of how to build up a successful accounting practice specializing in looking after small businesses, having himself built up a client base of 500 with a turnover of $385k, to develop the TaxAssist business model and support infrastructure.

TaxAssist was founded in 1995 in the UK by a group of dedicated professionals and based on a concept that was, and still is, fundamentally simple: to bring first class professional services to the small business owner. Our aim is to continue to expand in a controlled manner to become a global network of people all working hard to succeed in both financial and personal terms.

Through franchising we knew we could maximize growth potential to the mutual advantage of both TaxAssist and our franchisees. Franchising helps to minimize the risks and pitfalls usually associated with business start-ups, by providing specific guidance for franchisees newly into business.

Since recruiting our first franchisee in 1996, our philosophy has naturally evolved with a large percentage of our network now operating from store-style premises. Our strategy is to continue to recruit new franchisees who share in our vision, and to facilitate the move of remaining franchisees into similar store-style premises.

Our intention, through the growth of our brand internationally, is to establish ourselves as the 'natural choice' for small businesses in the countries we operate in.

TaxAssist Timeline


  • First franchisees and Area Representatives recruited in the USA.
  • First franchisee recruited in Canada.
  • Finalist in the 'Business to Business' category at the Best Franchise Awards.
  • WorkBuzz awards TaxAssist '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the ninth consecutive year.
  • TaxAssist launches in Canada.
  • New TaxAssist client websites launched plus a new dedicated corporate website to showcase all of the Group's activity. 
  • Finalist for 'Best Franchise £10m+ Network Turnover' at the Best Franchise Awards.
  • TaxAssist shortlisted for Global Franchise Award in the White Collar Franchise category.
  • TaxAssist opens 250th shop in the UK.
  • TaxAssist rises two places to 21st in Accountancy Daily's Top 75 firms survey.
  • The TaxAssist Support Centre awarded '5 star employer status' from WorkBuzz for the third year running.


  • Karl Sandall, Group Chief Executive Director celebrates 20 years at the helm of TaxAssist.
  • The TaxAssist UK Support Center awarded '5 star employer status' from WorkBuzz for the second year running.
  • TaxAssist launches in the US.
  • Wins 'Best Franchisee Marketing Support' award at the Franchise Marketing Awards 2020.
  • Finalist for 'Franchisor of the Year' at the bfa/HSBC British Franchise Awards.
  • TaxAssist retains 21st position in the Accountancy Age Top 50 rankings.
  • WorkBuzz awards TaxAssist with '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the eighth year in a row.


  • The TaxAssist UK Support Center awarded '5 star employer status' from WorkBuzz.
  • TaxAssist rises one place to 21st in the Accountancy Age Top 50 rankings.
  • The TaxAssist Direct Group named as finalist in the Large Business category in the Norfolk Business Awards.
  • WorkBuzz awards TaxAssist with '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the seventh year in a row.


  • Following an extensive period of research and evaluation, TaxAssist rolls out new software suite including TaxCalc, Receipt Bank, Practice Ignition and Virtual Cabinet.
  • WorkBuzz (formerly Smith + Henderson) awards TaxAssist with '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the sixth year in a row. 
  • UK network reaches 70,000 clients and a combined fee bank of £47 million.
  • TaxAssist named as bfa HSBC 'Franchisor of the Year' finalist.
  • TaxAssist holds steady at 22nd in the Accountancy magazine Top 75 rankings.
  • Daren Moore, FCCA joins the TaxAssist Accountants Executive Board of Directors as Group Commercial Director.
  • The Master Franchise Rights are awarded for Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.


  • TaxAssist wins 'business to business' category in Smith + Henderson's Best Franchise 2017 awards. 
  • Smith + Henderson awards TaxAssist with '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the fifth year in a row.
  • Karl Sandall, Group Chief Executive of TaxAssist, awarded with honorary membership of the Association of International Accountants in recognition of his contribution to accounting and finance.
  • 200th TaxAssist store opens in the UK.
  • TaxAssist wins 'The Local Campaign of the Year' award at the UK Biddable Media Awards, a prestigious award received for our local digital marketing campaign.


  • Smith & Henderson awards TaxAssist with '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the fourth year in a row.
  • TaxAssist moves up three places to 21st in the Accountancy Age Top 50 survey.
  • James Mattam joins the TaxAssist Executive Board of Directors as Business Development Director.
  • Sarah Robertson moves role to become Operations Director.
  • Phil Sullivan moves role to become Finance Director.
  • Launch of first Australian TaxAssist store.
  • UK network reaches 60,000 clients and a combined fee bank of £40 million.
  • TaxAssist Ireland scoops 'Best Marketing Campaign' award at Irish Franchise Award Ceremony.
  • CEO of The TaxAssist Group Karl Sandall moves up 3 places to 47 on the 2016 Accountancy Age 'Financial Power' List.


  • TaxAssist in the Republic of Ireland celebrate 5 years of success at their Annual Conference. They have built up to a network of 26 franchisees with a fee bank of over €5,000,000 and over 5,000 clients.
  • Accountancy Age publish their Financial Power List 2015 with CEO of The TaxAssist Direct Group Ltd Karl Sandall making it to number 50.
  • Alison McGinley of TaxAssist Ireland wins the Irish Franchise Association award "Irish Franchising Woman of the year".
  • TaxAssist celebrates 20th Anniversary in style at Annual Conference.
  • TaxAssist wins the 2015 Bronze Award for bfa Franchisor of the Year.
  • TaxAssist moves up one place to 24th in the Accountancy Age Top 50 survey.
  • Smith & Henderson award TaxAssist 'Best Franchise' in our category. We are also awarded with '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the third year in a row.
  • The milestone figure of 200 franchises in the network is reached in the UK.
  • The Master Franchise Rights are awarded for Queensland, New South Wales and ACT in Australia.


  • For the third year running, Smith & Henderson awards TaxAssist the award for "Best Training and Support". We are also awarded a "5 star franchisee satisfaction Recognition Award"
  • In the Accountancy Age Top 50 listings, TaxAssist beats the "Big 4" international groups achieving the fifth highest growth across the whole Top 50.
  • A TaxAssist resale breaks the million pound barrier when Mark Fordham sells his franchise to Mike Melling.
  • TaxAssist Ireland breaks into the Top 20 Accountancy Firms in the Republic.
  • The UK network has a record start to 2014 when for the first time, a Franchisee exceeds £100,000 sales in one month.
  • The Master Franchise Rights are awarded for the Greater Toronto area of Canada.
  • TaxAssist are up to 25th in the Annual Accountancy Age Top 50 survey.
  • Franchisee Assisted Management Buyout. John Westgarth retires as Chairman and Director after TaxAssist completes a MBO. This sees the business 32% owned by franchisees, 53% by the senior management team and 15% by long-standing external business partners. This is believed to be the UK's first ever franchisee-assisted management buyout.
  • UK network client total reaches 50,000.


  • TaxAssist voted winner of "The Accountancy Firm of The Year" award by the members of the Association of International Accountants (AIA) beating global groups and industry giants.
  • 150th store front opens.


  • Debbie Corbett and Vince Dalaimo become the first franchisees in the history of the network to exceed the £1,000,000 fee bank milestone.
  • TaxAssist wins "Best Large Franchisor" awarded by Smith & Henderson.


  • Our commitment to training leads to the founding of the TaxAssist Training Academy. This is made up of our in house team of qualified accountants and specialist trainers, who design and deliver our initial and ongoing face to face and online, and Continuing Professional Development programmes. This partnership ensures that materials are up to date, directly relevant to our network and of the highest quality.


  • TaxAssist wins the bfa Franchisor of the Year Award.
  • TaxAssist enters the Accountancy Age survey for the first time as the 34th largest accountancy firm with growth in sales of 19.9%, one of just six top 60 firms that achieved double-digit growth.
  • Sarah Robertson wins 2010 Innovation Group "Marketing Person of the Year" for the second time (she previously won the award in 2007). 100th TaxAssist store opens.


  • The Master Franchise Rights are awarded to an established firm of Accountants in the Republic of Ireland.


  • Phil Sullivan joins the Board of Directors as Network Operations and Finance Director.


  • With full network agreement, the name of the franchise is changed from TaxAssist Direct to TaxAssist Accountants. This decision was made so that the franchisees' potential clients could more clearly understand the core services being provided.


  • After extensive research, the integrated software suite offered by CCH is launched across the network. Sarah Robertson joins the TaxAssist Board as Business Development Director.


  • Karl Sandall joins TaxAssist as Chief Executive and Director.

Read about our TaxAssist Group directors...

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