“When people say ‘Actually you’ve made an impact, you’ve made a difference to my life’…that’s fulfilling. That encourages you to go back the next day and do more, push yourself… I’m extremely proud of my network, I’m proud of who we are…a network that genuinely cares for its clients.” – Bukky Shonola, TaxAssist Hitchin & Letchworth


The History of TaxAssist Accountants

The History of TaxAssist Accountants

Whilst 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 self-assessment. He anticipated that the demand for such a service would be ideal for a franchise network, and TaxAssist Accountants was formed. 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 accountancy practices over a 20-year period. He made use of his experience and knowledge of how to build up a successful accountancy practice specialising in looking after small businesses, having himself built up a client base of 500 with a turnover of £300k, to develop the TaxAssist Accountants business model and support infrastructure.

TaxAssist Accountants was founded in 1995 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 UK-wide (and also now International) network of people all working hard to succeed in both financial and personal terms.

Through franchising we knew we could maximise growth potential to the mutual advantage of both TaxAssist Accountants and our franchisees. Franchising helps to minimise 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 operating from shop-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 shop-style premises.

Our intention, through the growth of our brand across the country, is to further establish ourselves as the "natural choice" for small businesses.

TaxAssist Accountants Timeline



  • TaxAssist Accountants launches in Canada.
  • Finalist for 'Best Franchise £10m+ Network Turnover' at the Best Franchise Awards.
  • The TaxAssist Support Centre awarded '5 star employer status' from WorkBuzz for the third year running.


  • TaxAssist Accountants launches in the USA.
  • Karl Sandall, Group Chief Executive Director celebrates 20 years at the helm of TaxAssist Accountants.
  • The TaxAssist Support Centre awarded '5 star employer status' from WorkBuzz for the second year running.
  • 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 Accountants retains 21st position in the Accountancy Age Top 50 rankings.
  • WorkBuzz awards TaxAssist Accountants '5 star franchisee satisfaction' for the eighth year in a row, as well as a 'Continuous Improvement award' due to an increase in the overall satisfaction score for three consecutive surveys.
  • The TaxAssist Group wins Business of the Year at the Norfolk Business awards.


  • The TaxAssist Support Centre awarded '5 star employer status' from WorkBuzz.
  • TaxAssist Accountants rises one place to 21st in Accountancy Age Top 50 rankings.
  • The TaxAssist Direct Group named as finalist in the Large Business category in the Norfolk Business Awards.
  • UK network reaches 75,000 clients and a combined fee bank of £50 million.
  • WorkBuzz awards TaxAssist Accountants '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 '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 Accountants 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.


  • 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 accountancy and finance.
  • 200th TaxAssist Accountants Shop opens.
  • 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 Accountants 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 Accountants shop.
  • 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 Accountants celebrates 20th Anniversary in style at Annual Conference.
  • TaxAssist Accountants 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 awards TaxAssist with '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.
  • The Master Franchise Rights are awarded for Queensland, New South Wales and ACT in Australia.


  • For the third year running, Smith & Henderson awards TaxAssist Accountants the award for "Best Training and Support" and is also awarded a "5 star franchisee satisfaction Recognition Award".
  • In the Accountancy Age Top 50 listings, TaxAssist Accountants beats the "Big 4" international groups achieving the fifth highest growth across the whole Top 50.
  • TaxAssist Ireland breaks into the Top 20 Accountancy Firms in the Republic.
  • The Network has a record start to 2014 when for the first time, a Franchisee exceeds £100,000 sales in one month.
  • TaxAssist Accountants 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 Accountants completes a MBO. This is believed to be the UK's first ever franchisee-assisted management buyout.
  • UK network client total reaches 50,000.


  • TaxAssist Accountants 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 Shop 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 Accountants wins "Best Large Franchisor" awarded by Smith & Henderson.
  • A TaxAssist Accountants resale breaks the million pound barrier when Mark Fordham sells his franchise to Mike Melling.


  • Our commitment to training leads to the founding of the TaxAssist Accountants 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 Accountants wins the BFA Franchisor of the Year Award.
  • TaxAssist Accountants 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 2020 Innovation Group "Marketing Person of the Year" for the second time (she previously won the award in 2007).
  • 100th TaxAssist shop 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 franchisees' potential clients could more clearly understand the core services being provided.


  • Sarah Robertson joins the TaxAssist Accountants Board as Business Development Director.


  • Karl Sandall joins TaxAssist Accountants as Chief Executive and Director.

Read about our Directors...

Nikki Headshot

Contact Nikki today for further information

Email: [email protected] Click to email

Call: 0800 0188 297

Join us for a discovery day

Book your place

Find out more.