Are you aware of how many deadlines there are by which time you must submit the various accounting and tax documents in your business? Do you know when they are?

Here’s a list:

  • VAT – when is your VAT return due? When is the money due?
  • PAYE – when are your PAYE returns due and when do you have to pay the money over?
  • Annual Accounts – what is your year-end to which you must make up your accounts? And when are those accounts due for delivery to HMRC? What if you are a sole trader? What if you are a Limited Company?
  • If you are a Limited Company, when is your Annual Return due for submission and what is an Annual Return?
  • When is your tax return due? When do you have to pay the tax due on that return?

And there may be even more, depending on the nature of your business. PllDs anyone?

Some of these dates are the same for all businesses and others are unique to your own business. What’s the best way to keep on top of all of this without sleepless nights and without sweating the deadline?

Ask your accountant when the relevant dates are and keep a chart on your office wall or in your online calendar or whatever system you use to remind you of such things.

If you want your accountant to do the work for you, then ask how much time they need to do it and build that capacity into your calendar. But remember you are delegating not abdicating so even after you have sent your accountant the papers, make sure they received them and action them on time. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but all you are doing is acting responsibly as a small business owner.

Why would any small business do anything other than keep an eye on these dates? Make it someone else’s responsibility to make sure all the statutory deadlines are met – and relax!

Here at MoreThanABookKeeper.com we are delighted to do this work for our clients and responsible enough to be trusted with the deadlines. We keep up-to-date with HMRC’s constantly changing submission deadlines and procedures and we are only too happy to inform you of your responsibilities, partnering with you to keep you out of official hot water!

Not much gets done in this world without a deadline but our clients don’t need to burn the midnight oil. Let us take that stress off your shoulders.

 

One of the questions I get asked most is how to choose an accountant.  So, who better to answer that than Judith Morgan who was herself an accountant for many years? Judith contributes this weeks’ guest post:

I used to be an accountant, but I’m alright now. Boom boom!

There’s nothing like someone who has seen the light and got out of the profession to help you navigate your way around accountants and how they work. Like all professionals, many hide behind jargon.  Many accountants sadly never learn to speak “client” and they erroneously believe that if they make it all mysterious, you’ll feel the need to use them all the more. In my experience, nothing is further from the truth.

I’d like to share a few thoughts about what it’s like to be an accountant before I go on to give you a few pointers about hiring the right one for you.

Everyone needs an accountant, like everyone needs a hairdresser. Hair keeps on growing and keeps on needing to be cut. Accounts are the same. The work never stops; year after year after year your accounts need doing again. This can grind down an accountant. When I was in practice I got many a new client because their previous accountant had a nervous breakdown or taken to drink or just disappeared.

It’s the paperwork you see; it just keeps on coming and the mountains of paper get taller and taller, the files get fatter and fatter. Online filing helps, but not much!

But you are the client, you are the one who is important in this relationship, please remember that but do also spare a thought for your poor old accountant too. It’ll help your relationship go smoothly.

Tip No 1 – When visiting your accountant’s office, look around. How are the paperwork mountains doing? All neatly under control? Is the phone ringing off the hook with angry clients chasing their accountant, or is all peaceful? Paperwork mountains and busy phones denote an accountant who is losing the battle to keep up. And you want your accountant on top of everything all the time.

Tip No 2 – Your job is to delegate to your accountant, not abdicate. This means that you must check that everything you send is acknowledged and ask for a list of deadlines by which you have to submit VAT returns, PAYE returns, annual accounts and tax returns and make sure you give all your information to your accountant in good time. The submission dates for the paperwork and the paying of the money are not the same. Check dates for both.

Tip No 3 – You want an accountant who speaks your language. Do not be afraid to ask questions. If your accountant is saying something completely unintelligible, ask her to explain it in a way you can understand. If she cannot, get another accountant. Over the years if you do this you will come to know and understand more and more. This is good for both of you because you become a more informed client who can make better use of the information your accountant is providing and better business decisions.

Tip No 4 – Due to the mountains of work accountants have to manage, most simply give up and instead of being proactive, they revert to sweeping up behind you. An accountant reports historically, after your year has finished. How useful is that, really? If you want more up to date and more frequent management accounts so you can use them to steer your business and some useful advice that goes along with that, ask for it. This will require you to be prompt with the submission of information to her, but again it will increase the benefit to you as a client. Note: It may also increase costs.

Tip No 5 – Since I’ve raised the issue of fees, ask how much your accountants fees are and how often they are billed. In order to avoid a big shock, I recommend setting up a monthly standing order then there can never be any embarrassment or risk of your not being able to pay. No-one likes the shock of a large bill but equally your accountant deserves to be paid fairly and promptly.

Judith Morgan is a former accountant in private practice for more than 30 years. Now she is a small business mentor and professional blogger.

Following on from my recent article on the importance of cashflow (and don’t forget you can get a free spreadsheet already set up to use by signing up to our newsletter),

Anne Walsh of The Excel Expert  has written instructions and explains in the video below how you can convert your cashflow forecast or any excel spreadsheet data into charts.

(After clicking the play button click the TV logo in the bottom right corner to view full screen)

Creating a chart in Excel

  1. Make sure you only highlight the data you need (press the Ctrl key and keep it pressed down while you select the different areas
  2. Choose Insert – pick a chart (I used Line chart to track the total income and total expenditure)
  3. You should now have your chart.
  4. When you click on the chart, you should now have new tabs available to you on right of screen i.e. Design, Layout, Format. (If you can’t see them, make sure you have clicked on the chart)
  5. To add a title, click on Layout – Chart Title (choose Above Chart) and then type in your title.
  6. If you want to change the horizontal axis to show the date every 7 days instead of every day, click on the axis, choose Layout:  Format Selection
  • Click Axis options on left
  • Choose Major Units – change to Fixed – change to 7 (make sure days is the unit chosen)
  • Click OK.

7.  Note that you can also change the colour by choosing Chart Styles from the Design tab.

Anne Walsh has been teaching Excel since the mid-1990s and she wants to help you love it.

Check out her website: www.the-excel-expert.com for tutorials and videos. You can also download a cheat sheet of great Excel shortcuts there as well.

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