I stayed up late last night getting my invoices and expenses in order. Well, I say “I” stayed up late, but really it was Mr Fairy, the one person in the house with any financial common-sense. This is his area, so I don’t feel overly guilty that he ends up wearily shoving all my scribbled calculations into spreadsheets, and translating unintelligible (to me) tax forms. I edit his CVs and write the family thank you cards, so I reckon that makes us even.
Anyway, while ferreting out all the scraps of paper needed to provide the information required by my very own biscuit-chewing tax accountant, I got to thinking about how I could make this easier for myself next year. I stopped Mr Fairy doing his sums and asked him for a few tips to put at the end of this blogpost, but he said he was too busy.
So then I turned to Arundhuti Dutta-Roy, an accountant I met through my networking group, with whom I’ve had a few meetings and chats. With her help, 2020 is looking brighter already.
Here are her five Top Tips for easier tax returns:
1 Keep records
That means all sales and income records, business expenses, VAT (if registered), PAYE (if you employ people) and records of personal income – these are just a few items which you should keep in an organised and chronological order.
2 Embrace technology
Yes, you. Whether that means using cloud-based software like Quickbooks or Xero to monitor your business, or downloading an app on your phone to create efficiencies, this kind of tecchie-help can provide time-saving hacks so you get to spend more time on your business, and less keeping stock.
3 Make room
Dedicate a regular session every week or month (depending on the complexity of your business) to get on top of your bookkeeping. Fail to prepare, or prepare to fail!
4 Think electronic
Making tax digital has put businesses under more scrutiny than ever before. Whether you’re VAT-registered or not, it’s always good practice to keep electronic records of transactions (currently only required by VAT-registered businesses). If not VAT-registered, hop on board now, and the transition will be easier going forward.
5 Ask an expert
You can’t put a price on quality advice. Get yourself a good chartered accountant, preferably from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). You may pay more, but imagine the cost if you use an amateur.
Arundhuti Dutta-Roy is Managing Director of ADR Financial Solutions, a chartered accountancy firm based in north west London, working with individuals and businesses across a range of industries to help them fulfil their financial obligations – and not get in a pickle when it’s THAT time of year.
I’m off to raid the biscuit-tin and show Mr Fairy what I’ve learned. Might even help him out…