Should I Hire a Bookkeeper for My Self-Assessment?

Should I hire a bookkeeper

As the deadline date for your self-assessment submission is fast approaching, you may find yourself asking the age old question ‘Should I Hire a Bookkeeper for my Self-Assessment?’

Well, that all depends on your particular situation as to whether or not this is a viable option or if it is even needed.

Start by asking yourself a few questions:

How are you with keeping your records?

Have you been recording your receipts and invoices as you go along? Do you have copies of all of your receipts and invoices?

Or, is keeping records not one of your strong points? Do you have a pile of papers that you have just been putting in a drawer?

Are you confident enough to do this by yourself?

How do you feel when it comes to important things like dealing with HMRC? Are you quite confident with keeping records and filling out forms?

Would you rather not fill out forms? Do you worry whether you’re ticking the right boxes or giving the right information?

Are you confident that you have enough understanding of other aspects that may apply to you? Such as Capital Gains Tax, Pensions, AIA and Depreciation? These can be quite complex sections, so it is really important to make sure that you understand if these are applicable to you and what figures need to be inputted.

Probably the most important question is ‘Do you have the time needed to make sure that this is done correctly?’

What is your workload like at the moment? Are you rushed off your feet?  Are you in a position that you will be able to block out some time to sit and make sure that everything is correct?

When you have answers to these questions you need to sit down and weigh up the pros and cons of hiring a bookkeeper.

You’ve decided that you’re all up to date and your bookkeeping is in good order. Should you hire a bookkeeper? If you are confident that your figures are correct, you’ve taken all of your allowable expenses into account, you know exactly which sections of the self-assessment apply to you and you have enough time to focus on completing your self-assessment then no, it sounds as though you have it all under control and don’t need to hire a bookkeeper.

If you’ve decided that you’re not great at keeping your records and that you’re very behind then definitely, the sensible thing to do would be to hire a bookkeeper. It can be really hard to backtrack and make sense of 12 months of paperwork! It will also work out more cost efficient for you. The time it would take you to complete a whole year of bookkeeping will no doubt take you away from earning money by running your business.

Have you decided that your bookkeeping is in good order but you’re just not 100% confident? Again, yes, you should hire a bookkeeper. A bookkeeper can take your books, check them all over for you and then make the final submission to HMRC.  This would leave you with the peace of mind that everything is in order and that HMRC have the correct figures.

Most importantly, have you decided if you’re going to have enough time to do this? If work has started slowing down a little for Christmas and you are definitely going to have time then great. No need to hire a bookkeeper. However, if you’re very busy and can’t see things slowing down, then seriously consider it. This is not a job that can be rushed and needs to be given enough time.

It may be that you records are great, you’re confident enough to do it and have the time but it’s a job that you just don’t like doing. Again, yes we would recommend you hire a bookkeeper. If you’re hearts not in it and you’re doing it because you have to and to get it out of the way, then this is where mistakes can be made.

If after reading this, it has helped you decide that you would like to hire a bookkeeper then we would recommend that you do this sooner rather than later as the deadline is now just over a month away.

You also need to bear in mind that it’s important to choose the right bookkeeper for you. The best way is to have somebody recommended to you. That way you will know that they have a good reputation.

If you have to find one, then do an internet search. Find somebody that is local to you in case you need to drop or collect any paperwork. Make sure that they regulated by a governing body and fully insured. Most importantly of all find somebody that you like. You are entrusting this company with your business finances so it is important that you can trust them.

Hiring a bookkeeper in a lot of situations can be the most sensible and cost efficient thing to do. A good bookkeeper will work closely with you to meet with your requirements. That way even though you’re not actually doing it yourself you will still have that feeling of being in control. Have a look at our page to give you an idea of the different options that could be available to you. https://www.csbookkeepingservices.co.uk/self-assessment 

Just imagine the feeling of just being able to run your business without having to worry about things that may not be your expertise. Sometimes you just have to think about your peace of mind and what you need to do to achieve that!

A Day In The Life Of A Bookkeeper

Life as a bookkeeper was interesting, life as a self employed bookkeeper is something else entirely and no two days are the same.

On a "normal" day I'll wake between 5:30 and 6:00 and make my first cup of tea....there's definitely a lot of tea drunk and biscuits eaten in this job!

Then I'll sit down at my laptop firstly to check my emails to ensure there are no urgent client queries from the previous evening and secondly to prepare my social media posts for that day.

After an hour or so it's usually time to wake the children and get them prepared for school and into breakfast club.

Once I've dropped them off at school it's time to start work.

Depending on what day it is, depends where I'm working. As I say no two days are the same.

The role of a bookkeeper is extremely varied and whereby one minute you can deal with something as straight forward as data entry one to a complex query about an amendment to a self assessment tax return the next.

There are also a lot of changes that affect small business owners that you need to be continually aware of.

Personally, I have spent a lot of time listening to webinars in connection with Making Tax Digital for VAT, and making myself aware of the new changes to tax codes that are due to become active from 6th April 2019.

Continued Professional Development (CPD) is something that is important to me personally to ensure I have the correct knowledge I need to be the best I can be in my profession.

However, fitting CPD into my working week can be quite difficult especially as I spend half my working week at my clients premises and the remainder of my time at the office, or networking.

As there is so much happening in my life on a weekly basis being extremely organised is compulsory. As well as knowing which client I need to attend and when I also need to know who has got VAT returns to be completed, when everyone's year end is, who has payroll completed weekly and who is monthly etc.

Some evenings I will find myself working until 9pm or 10pm to ensure my workload is up to date.

However, along with the hard work, early mornings and late night's there are some bonuses.

Two huge highlights from the last twelve months include being chosen by Theo Paphitis as his Small Business Sunday (#SBS) winner in July 2018 and then getting to meet him in February 2019 at the #SBSEvent2019 was fantastic. I'm sure I came over a little bit starstruck.

The other highlight was being shortlisted as Female Entrepreneur of the Year in the British Small Business Awards 2018. Although I didn't win it was an amazing night and such an honour to have been recognised for my achievements as a small business owner.

So in short the day to day life of a self employed bookkeeper is definitely varied, hard work and long days but so worth it. And as the business grows I feel I am reaping more of the rewards that I have sown.

Pre Start Up Costs – What are they & what can I claim?

Starting your own business is a scary step. Whether it’s a profession you’re familiar with or completely new territory the decision to make the move into self-employment is daunting.

Before you start your business one of the things that could be on your mind will be pre start-up costs. What are they? What can I claim for?

Hopefully this blog will help answer some of those questions.

Whether you are starting a limited company or are a sole trader the pre-trading expenditure is treated as if was incurred on the first day of trading.

The first day of trading can vary from business to business but it is usually on or before the first invoice is issued or first payment is received. However, there are some exceptions, for instance, if a trainer delivers a course and then invoices after the course the business start date would be prior to the first invoice date.

But what can you use in your pre-trade expenditure? It is important to remember, and always keep at the forefront of your mind, that is anything that has been purchased wholly and exclusively for the use of the business.

Most of the time these purchases will be made shortly before you begin trading but the purchases can range back up to seven years prior to the commencement of trade.

The most obvious example of pre start-up costs would be stock, advertising and equipment for the business. However, there are some lesser thought of examples of pre-trade expenditure which can include rent, heat, light and mileage. Although this list is not exhaustive it gives an idea of what you can claim for.

What if I want to use my laptop for the business? You can do this. If your laptop has been previously used on a personal basis, this can be transferred across to the business at its current market value. There are a variety of sites where you can get an idea of how much items are currently worth. This method can be applied to other items that you have previously used on a personal basis such as printers.

It is worth bearing in mind that you will not be able to claim the full annual investment allowance (AIA) on profits before tax. Instead you would need to claim a writing down allowance (WDA) For more information on capital allowances, writing down allowances and how to calculate them visit www.gov.uk/work-out-capital-allowances.

It is also worth remembering that capital expenditure is generally not allowed to be included in pre-start-up costs unless you have purchased equipment, this can be included.

As well as being able to see how much you could offset against any profits, by sitting down and calculating your pre-start up costs you will be able to see how much it will cost to start the business that you dream of.  

Although this blog is designed to give an overview of pre start-up costs, many of them will be specific to the trade that you are looking to start a business in.

If you require any more help or support in calculating your pre start-up costs it would be worth speaking to an accounting professional such as a bookkeeper or accountant.

VAT – Do I need to register my business?

Vat on wooden cubes over blur background with copy spcae, financial concept background

One of the most commonly confusing and daunting topics among business owners is VAT registration. In our many years of practice as bookkeepers, we have dealt with a large clientele and the question that very often arises is whether registering for VAT is the right decision for their company.

Even though for some companies VAT registration is compulsory by the law, for others it’s a voluntary decision, which means that in reality it’s a matter of good timing and getting smart legal and tax advice for your company. Having that said, in order to come to the right conclusion it is important not only to know your company’s needs and profits, but it is also crucial to understand the impact of this decisionon your business.

If your business’ VAT taxable annual turnover is more than £85,000, then you must register for VAT with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). And once you are registered, they will send you a VAT registration certificate, which will confirm your VAT number, the dates when you will have to submit your first VAT return and payment, along with your ‘effective date of registration’, which is the date you went over the threshold, or the date you asked to register if it was voluntary.

This is a very straightforward procedure for your company if it meets the VAT registration threshold of the £85.000, but the challenge begins if you are a small business owner or a start-up company and you are trying to figure it out what is the best course of action for you.

Every company is different and every company owner needs to be advised accordingly. It’s a bookkeeper’s duty to be able to advise his clients for the best of their interest. Registering for VAT should be considered very thoroughly as it can have permanent implications for the financial health of your company.

One of the main reasons why you should consider registering for VAT voluntarily is reclaiming VAT that you have been charged by other companies. As a VAT registered company you are legit to claim back VAT charges, as long as your input tax doesn’t exceed your output tax. Moreover, being a VAT registered firm can be beneficial for improving your business profile. Potential collaborators and clients will consider you as a large and well established company.

In spite of the benefits, one should also consider the downsides of being a VAT registered business owner, especially for small companies or start-ups. You might end up with higher costs and there will be an increase of paperwork. Your company needs to follow specific procedures and be on time on your payments, as penalties do apply.

There is no doubt that registering your company is a substantial change for your business. And there are plenty of questions that we are more than happy to answer and help you with. As a bookkeeping company we are here to advise you which are the best solutions for your own business and assist you throughout the whole process, while ensuring that a VAT registration is the right financial decision for you.