Member Since: 20th Sep 1998
Stephen established his general accountancy practice in 1986 to help individuals and small businesses become more successful. Stephen is an Independent Certified Practising Accountant and Fellow member of The ICPA and member of the IAB. He was a TAS Software accounting partner and used TAS Software since 1995. In 2012 he became a Xero Certified Advisor with the strong belief that Xero Accounting software was changing the way accountants interact with businesses. Never looked back.
A visit to an Accountants' Exhibition in London's City area back in the 90's Stephen discovered a young Sift company promoting a new website called AccountingWeb. Since then he has been a regular subscriber.
1st Oct 2015
Or just go with NEST.
Or just go with NEST. That's the government backed scheme that accepts everyone. Surely we can't get into trouble if we suggest NEST to clients. Can we?
30th Sep 2015
Who You Gonna Call?
Maybe this might also be a good time to review whether you should be involved in pension selection at all?
Our few payroll clients don't know anything about AE, they hadn't even heard of it until we mentioned it. They just want us to sort it out (with the payroll) and make it go away. When discussing choice of pension provider with them we get comments such as "whoever you choose that's fine by me". We would rather not be involved with AE but it's been forced upon us by the Government. If we don't deal with it who will? We have built up trust with our clients over many years and provide all these services they need. We don't have a choice but to be involved. Having researched and chosen a suitable pension provider as a solution to a problem (I do not see this as an opportunity to make money as some pundits would have us believe) it's a shame Now Pensions have Now moved the goalposts. It won't effect our client who has already signed but we may now have to consider NEST for the smaller clients staging in 2016. It's a great shame because I would rather not have to learn another system as #garethwestwood rightly points out. One wonders whether Now planned to introduce this charge all along with the intention of "losing" many of the less profitable smaller clients staging in 2016 and beyond
PS. My email on 18 Sep (mentioned in my earlier post) was never answered.
18th Sep 2015
Having invested a lot of time in learning how to use their microsite, attending their webinars, etc, surely there will be no additional burden on them as we shall be providing the complete payroll AE service to our clients.
We have one client already signed up with Now and about to stage in two weeks. As I understand it the charge won't apply to them. But we have a few clients staging next year who didn't need to sign up yet. We were waiting until later this year to set them up with Now but it would appear this new charge will apply to them. They won't want to pay it so we may have to look at NEST or something similar. It would be a shame not to have all the clients on the same system. We shall have to learn another system all over again. I thought we had AE all sorted.
I have just emailed our contact at Now and waiting for a reply. I'm very disappointed and frustrated by this development.
14th Sep 2015
Its always risky telling a sole trader to treat the accounting profit as his taxable profit. We all know this is only the starting point but most sole traders, especially start ups, wouldn't have a clue. Add backs and capital allowances, to name but two, still have to be processed to arrive at the taxable profit. Does HMRC make it clear there's a difference? Doesn't sound like it from the OP. We always explain this to clients in our SAR covering letter.
Tony M from the ICPA 's is quite correct to point out any shortcomings with HMRC for the benefit of the profession and long may he continue to do so.
11th Sep 2015
Oh Dear! Oh Dear!
Not all clients are digitally enabled. I have a husband and wife client pair who don't do digital, they don't even have a TV. They think "online" is pegging out their washing and a smartphone is a red telephone box that actually pays back your coppers when you press button B! This is just one of the reasons they choose to use an accountant.
Mr Gauke and his cronies seem to think that if you make it easier to deal with your tax affairs online people will want to do it themselves. The majority won't. Like my client pair above many just don't want to deal with HMRC and some are even scared of anything to do with tax let alone understand it's complexities. In most cases we accountants take away the compliance pain make it go away. That's what they want us to do and HMRC need to understand that.
26th Aug 2015
Having been to all Accountex shows since they started in 2012 I have seen them grow and get better. However, with the increasing number of visitors to the shows to see the trade stands and attend the excellent seminars, the size of the theatres will always be too small to accommodate all those who wish to attend them. For me the seminars are the key benefit of Accountex. One hopes that Diversified Communications UK will bring in their expertise to resolve this.
15th Jul 2015
Business Park Office
Rural business park office for a professional appearance if clients visit. Rent and service charges affordable for a decent sized single office. No business rates for the last few years due to small business rate relief. Free parking for clients who visit and they seem to prefer to travel the 4 miles from town to us because the parking is a nightmare there.
No passing trade but we get word of mouth referrals and people find us on Google easily enough. Business park is close to a main road so easy to find us and convenient to drop off or collect records when passing. When I've had enough I can just shut the door and go home. I live in the same village so not much of a commute. Much better than working from home which I did for 20 years until the office came along. Been here 10 years and no regrets.
25th Jun 2015
RTI Reasonable Excuse! What a Joke.
I ran a payroll for a client on Monday 22nd for payment to staff on Tues 23rd (same dates every month). Could not submit due HMRC systems down. Couldn't find anything conclusive on the HMRC service pages until 23rd. Aweb members were reporting problems via any answers so that was comforting I was not alone, Couldn't submit on 23rd either but now Moneysoft and TaxCalc had both posted the problem on their support pages.
The client paid his staff as usual on 23rd and I did't tell them there was a problem with the submission. Why would I? Its not relevant to him.
On 24th TaxCalc reported all filing services had been restored, Well done TaxCalc for being up to date, shame on Moneysoft for not. Also I expected a headline feature on Aweb but apart from any answers thread it seemed to go largely unnoticed by the editorial staff.
Finally submitted the payroll on 24th and, for the first time ever, got the prompt as to why I was submitting late! I scrolled down to find the option "HMRC screwed up", I mean "HMRC filing service unavailable". But no, nothing appropriate appeared in the standard response list. Obvious really; the HMRC filing service never fails does it so it must always be our fault. So went for "Reasonable Excuse" as the sensible option. Just feels like an unnecessary reprimand from HMRC when you're already annoyed at the failure of this very important service.
16th Mar 2015
The article was posted by Robert Lovell and not Simon Brown. Robert must have interviewed Simon for his take on the subject and thought it was worth publishing.
17th Jan 2015
Burning the midnight oil. Not me!
I really tried hard this year to chase clients during the year and by an large it has been better. So much so that I took two weeks off over Christmas and New Year and enjoyed the break. I can't remember the last time I did that. Starting back on 5 Jan I was happy that all the 31 Jan deadlines (SARs and companies) would be met if the records had already been received. So far so good. The arrival of late records started as soon as the holiday was over and I've told them all that as it's so late we cannot guarantee getting them done by 31 Jan. Most accept this. The ones most likely to be left until Feb are the messy jobs. Getting a penalty is the best way to focus the clients' minds if you want to educate them - not deliberately though. We'll do the best we can but I'm not burning the midnight oil for anyone!