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I suspect that for many small businesses. the planned roll out of the Digital Tax plans by HM Revenue and Customs has been filed under ‘bureaucratic reorganisation which does not affect me.’
In addition, it is probable that the whole subject has not been regarded as relevant by those individuals who are required to submit a self-assessment tax return.
However, it is important to note that any individual who is required to submit a tax return by virtue of being self-employed or has property letting income, and has annual income in excess of £10,000, is required to register for the digital tax scheme. (The criteria also include those individuals in employment with additional income in excess of £10,000).
This is of course in addition to incorporated businesses.
The main impact will be on those individuals and small businesses who do not currently fully use software to maintain their accounting records. HM Revenue & Customs will require all those affected to keep digital records of their income and expenditure and submit in an acceptable format such digital records to HM Revenue & Customs in quarterly updates.
It should be noted that HM Revenue and Customs will not be providing their own free software to facilitate the Digital Tax requirements – therefore it is important for those affected who do not currently use commercial bookkeeping/accounting software to start researching the most suitable and cost effective software solution for their needs. The current proposal are for software companies to be required to provide a free version, but this is likely to be fairly basic (eg will it include VAT calculation ?)
HM Revenue & Customs clearly anticipate that with the improvement in design and security of cloud based bookkeeping that there will not be major problems in implementing the scheme, in the sense that all that will be required is access to the internet and that installation of software on the taxpayer’s computer will not be necessary.
Some will say that this is an optimistic scenario, particularly as the system (originally due to come into operation from April 2018) is now delayed until April 2019 (for non-incorporated businesses with turnover in excess of VAT threshold).
The other proposed deadlines for implementation have now been postponed to April 2020 for the following :
- Self employed individuals and landlords with turnover below VAT threshold but above £10,000.
- Incorporated businesses.
For those businesses already using commercial software the changes should be less onerous, as the software provider should be providing a relatively painless update to facilitate the submission of electronic records, although it is yet to be seen what additional costs they will attempt to pass on to the customer.
On the plus side, for any taxpayer affected who uses or intends to use an accountant/agent, the agent in question should be able to retrieve from HM Revenue & Customs electronic data relating to PAYE income, pension income, Social Security benefits and other information, which means that loss of paper documents should not be such a stressful situation and should also save time for all concerned.
I hope that gives a general overview of the changes on the way and the affect that they will have.
In my previous blog concerning online bookkeeping systems I referred to the issue of online bank feeds and in this blog I will address this in more detail.
Bank feeds are now a common feature of online bookkeeping systems and are a significant improvement in terms of simplifying and reducing time spent on bank reconciliations.
This is because the bank accounts on the online system are updated in real time direct from the relevant bank account and can be viewed immediately. This dispenses with the need to download the bank statements in file format and then upload to the bookkeeping system.
Furthermore, most of the software products feature an ability to match and assign transactions to supplier and customer invoices and also memorise non-ledger bank transactions.
However, an issue that has arisen and been reported on elsewhere is that in most systems the bank feeds are powered by a third party provider.
This raises the question of whether your bank’s terms and conditions cover the use of third party software and therefore whether a particular bank will not accept liability in the instance of any breach of security arising from the use of a bank feed.
Therefore, it is important to check with your bank as to the status of your particular bank’s terms and conditions.
The good news is that many banks (particularly the major banks) have or are in the process of updating the terms and conditions in response to the issue being raised by customers using or intend to use the bank feed facility.
Furthermore, some of the major banks are in the process of developing their own direct bank feeds, which will avoid the problem of where responsibility rests for bank security when using bank feeds.
It should also be pointed out that if using the direct bank feed is not an acceptable option based on the above considerations, it should still be possible with the more common online systems to use the ‘old’ system of importing the downloaded bank files (details of this should be on the system help site), and still use the ‘matching’ facility and reconciliation features to gain as much benefit from the online system.
It remains to be seen how long it will take the banks to completely clarify the situation, but it is reasonable to predict that online bank feeds are here to stay and that as thousands of businesses are now using online bookkeeping systems, and bank feeds are a major feature of these systems, the issue should be resolved satisfactorily.
Any small business now has a range of choices when looking for bookkeeping software.
Clearly the main development in the past few years has been the growing market for online bookkeeping systems and the choice available may mean that it is not easy for every business to choose the most appropriate system for them.
Although in general most of the online software products aimed at small businesses are designed on the same general layout, it is important to look in detail at the specifications for the particular product you are considering.
For example, the cheapest versions of some products have a limit for the number of sales invoices that can be issued per month, or the number of bank transactions that can be entered per month.
Therefore, if your business only issues one invoice per month, but all other specifications meet your requirements, then it makes sense to start with the cheapest version, as there can be a significant pricing differential to the next ‘higher’ version of the software.
Alternatively, if your business processes a large number of bank transactions per month, then you should check for any limitations in this respect on cheaper versions of a particular product.
(I will be returning in detail to the subject of how bank accounts and bank feeds operate in online systems in a later blog).
A major consideration for small businesses in respect of marketing is being able to use branded stationery. Online bookkeeping systems are designed to ‘create’ a sales invoice on the system (rather than just inputting invoice values and printing invoices outside of the software) – the good news is that the most popular products allow for personalised branding of invoices and other stationery using your own logo, letterhead etc.
Another factor to consider is whether the supplier also offers a payroll option (which will be at an additional cost) which can be linked to the accounts software and therefore saves time in respect of wages journals. Any payroll option on offer should be HMRC compliant and RTI ready. Please note that cheaper payroll options will also most likely have a limit on number of employees that can be processed.
The above are just some of the factors to consider when choosing the most suitable product – it is also important to remember that the software provider will offer a free trial period in order to assess the product for your needs.
It is usually worth starting with the cheapest version suitable for your needs, as most (if not all) online bookkeeping software products are paid by monthly subscription, and there should not be any penalty for deciding after a few months that the software you are using is not the optimum solution for your business and you wish to change to a ‘higher’ version or change to another product.
BJG Accountancy is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.
BJG Accountancy may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from August 2012.
What we collect
We may collect the following information:
- name and job title
- contact information including email address
- demographic information such as postcode, preferences and interests
- other information relevant to client services
What we do with the information we gather
We require this information to understand your needs and provide you with a better service, and in particular for the following reasons:
- Internal record keeping.
- We may use the information to improve our and services.
- We may periodically send promotional emails about new services or other information which we think you may find interesting using the email address which you have provided.
- From time to time, we may also use your information to contact you for client feedback purposes. We may contact you by email, phone, fax or mail. We may use the information to customise the website according to your interests.
We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online.
Controlling your personal information
We will not sell, distribute or lease your personal information to third parties unless we have your permission or are required by law to do so. We may use your personal information to send you promotional information about third parties which we think you may find interesting if you tell us that you wish this to happen.
You may request details of personal information which we hold about you under the Data Protection Act 1998. A small fee will be payable.
If you would like a copy of the information held on you please write to BJG Accountancy 46 Tortoiseshell Way Braintree CM7 1WG
If you believe that any information we are holding on you is incorrect or incomplete, please write to or email us as soon as possible, at the above address. We will promptly correct any information found to be incorrect.
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There are typical four types of cookies that can be used:
- Strictly necessary cookies. These are cookies that are required for the operation of a website. They include, for example, cookies that enable a user to log into secure areas of a website, use a shopping cart or make use of e-billing services.
- Analytical/performance cookies. They allow a website to recognise and count the number of visitors and to see how visitors move around a website when they are using it. This helps website owners to improve the way their website works, for example, by ensuring that users are finding what they are looking for easily.
- Functionality cookies. These are used to recognise a user when they return to a website. This enables the website owner to personalise its content for the user, greet a user by name and remember a user’s preferences (for example, their choice of language or region).
- Targeting cookies. These cookies record a visitor or user visit to a website, the pages they have visited and the links they have followed. This information is used to make a website and the advertising displayed on it more relevant to the visitor’s or user’s interests. Website owners may also share this information with third parties for this purpose.
We use “strictly necessary” cookies on our website:
(a) We use a cookie called PHPSESSID which is known as a session cookie. It is a temporary cookie used for the operation of the website that will remain in the cookie file of your browser until you close your browser.
THIRD PARTY COOKIES
Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide whilst visiting such sites and such sites are not governed by this privacy statement. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.
Use by you of this website establishes, and is strictly on the basis of, agreement in full by you, on your own behalf and on behalf of anyone you represent, to the following Terms and Conditions:
- We reserve the right to amend these Terms & Conditions at any time by amendment to the version posted on the website, whereafter any subsequent use by you of the website will be taken as acceptance by you of the Terms & Conditions in their amended state.
- You warrant that you are not in breach of any law or order of any court by using this service.
- You agree that, in visiting and navigating around this website:
a) you will not act in any way that amounts to a breach of any law and will fully indemnify and hold us harmless against all claims or demands or other consequences of any breach of this provision,
b) you will not upload onto any area of this website any images, graphics, text, hyperlinks, machine readable code or other content that amounts to a breach of the rights, including intellectual property rights, of others and/or which may breach reasonable standards of morality, decency and respect for the interests of others to be treated with civility and/or which may breach the rights in law of others not to be defamed and/or which may breach any right in law whatsoever and shall hold harmless ourselves against all claims and demands that may relate in any way to such content,
c) you will not upload onto any area of this website any information, whether as to your identity, the purpose of your visit or otherwise, that is not truthful and honest,
d) you will not upload to this website, or create or increase any risk of the uploading by others, or otherwise expose this website or any email address disclosed on it, to the risk of a visit or action by any virus, trojan, autobot or other form of malware of any description, and will keep us at all times fully indemnified against any loss or damage resulting from any such upload or risk,
e) we have full right to remove at any time, and without notice to you, any content uploaded by yourself to this website,
f) should you access any part of this website by personal login, you accept full responsibility for all actions taken on the website under your username, whether or not you were the person who took such action,
g) there is no liability on us for loss or damage resulting, directly or indirectly, from your visit to (including agreeing not to seek to hold us responsible, or accountable, for any action or lack of action by yourself as a result of information or advice appearing on), this website, or through access from this website, whether a website that is linked from this website, or any website that masquerades as our website or from data and information appearing through data sharing technologies, or from your use of less than the optimal encryption security, anti-virus or anti-spam protection or other similar procedures, including measures to protect your personal identity, in your browser or e-mail program, or otherwise the manner and procedures you adopt when browsing around the Web,
h) that, whilst we will use our best endeavours at all times to ensure the continuity of the availability of the website on the Internet, given that the potential for disruption of connectivity extends well beyond technology and events over which we have any control, covering possible actions by many varied organisations who contribute to the functionality and connectivity of the Internet as well as the status of your own software and websites, there will be no liability on us for any loss or damage resulting, directly or indirectly, from any disruption of access or failure or variation of intended functionality that occurs for whatever reason,
i) that we reserve the right at any time to suspend or cancel your use of, or access to, this website,
j) that you recognise that we own all intellectual property rights in the content on this website, and that you will not, either by yourself directly or by assisting or permitting others so to do, do anything that breaches in any way such intellectual property rights of ourselves and, in particular, will not copy or reproduce any element of this website or its code or use it, or any part of it, to create any content, document, website, image or graphic. In addition you will not create, or permit or assist others in creating, any hyperlink to any part of this website save to the home page nor take any action that directly or indirectly prevents, in whole or in part, access to, or reduces the enjoyment by yourself or others of, this website,
k) that when seeking to purchase any goods or services on this website, that you will not do so save on the basis that our Terms and Conditions of Sale are accepted by you as regulating any such purchase you make.
- In the event that any term is held to be invalid by a decision of a court of competent authority, the remainder of these Terms & Conditions shall remain valid and enforceable.
- The laws of England and Wales shall be the only laws that apply to your use of this website and you agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales for the resolution of any claim or dispute arising.
- All written notices to be given to us shall be sent by post to 46 Tortoiseshell Way Braintree CM7 1WG.
We understand the value of personal and trusted relationships and work with our clients to benefit their businesses.