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Software for Accountancy-bookkeeping-corporate-personal tax for small business/self-employed

24th Nov 2011
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David Barry writes: From 1991 I began working as a sole practitioner accountant and at that time only available were the old manual way of completing accounts that all of us accountants remember. The only software that I knew was available was Microsoft Office and so began my affiliation with this software programme.

I do not profess to be an expert in any shape/form but I have followed the small increases in efficiency in Microsoft Excel since then and have installed/used until today at which time I am now using Microsoft Office 2010.

I have always used Microsoft Excel/Access to prepare client financial accounts/tax computations and with each version find that it is made better/more efficient for usage.

So why I am writing this article? Probably like all accountants/more particularly traders I receive constant telephone calls from software companies to buy their software.  If the average small limited company/accountant in practise has the usual of accounts preparation/tax computations/vat returns/PAYE: then with different software packages for each the cost can/does mount up.  Say £150-£250 for bookkeeping package: £500 for accounts(I have been quoted this) £150-£250 for corporation tax-£200 for paye it can be seen that this accumulates very quickly.  The above adds to £1,000 per annum and the key is per annum.  Therefore for an ongoing business for 5,10,20 years then the investment is quite considerable. 

Please remember that what you buy is an annual licence and if ‘ensnared’ by any software company you are more or less drawn into using their software so that if you want to change then the information has to be drawn back and inputed into new.

I am not saying that there is no place for sophisticated software for larger business (transaction based rather than turnover based) but their merits should be further considered before the ‘dip’ is made.

As an accountant I must admit that I have been fascinated by the merits of Excel for 15+ years ever since I seriously began using this software.  It is also true to say that you must understand how financial accounts are put together if using this to prepare financial accounts.  However, for the sole accountant practitioner it has its place, leading to a lesser investment in software leading to lower accountancy fees-good for clients!

This leads me on to the next bit.  You have prepared the financial statements/tax computaions thereon and are ready for the next stage of HMRC IXBRL.  I have now self-taught and completed the task of converting from Excel to IXBRL-called  tagging.  However, David Barry now writes that I believe the HMRC free software is excellent and am using this to file many personal tax returns/corporate financial accounts/CT600 (the equivalent limited company tax return form.)  HMRC Limited Company software operates on a PDF Basis which you load down to your hard drive and even has a page where you can submit to Companies House-an excellent feature.

Management accounts

If you can be bothered to study the many excellent YouTube videos (‘Excelforfun’) can learn to produce fabulous management accounts information using Excel pivot tables.  Virtually with a click of the mouse and understanding how to complete fields/rows/columns and using function ‘value field settings’ can produce the prettiest/most efficient management information representing data both in text form (percentages/frequencies/accumulated frequency distributions) and pictorially through charts that is pie charts/bar charts/histograms.

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