What next for DIY Excel accounts production?

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John Stokdyk
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The proposed changes in online filing rules for Corporation Tax are also causing accountants who develop their own accounts production tools to think again. John Stokdyk looks at an Any Answers query that reopened an age-old debate.

AccountingWEB.co.uk member Tony Lecart recently started an Any Answers thread that touched on some of the founding ideas behind our ExcelZone. In a new twist on the classic “build or buy?” software conundrum, Tony explained that he had created his own statutory accounts templates in Excel. It took him a while to do, but he loved the flexibility and control his self-developed worksheets provide.

Then he discovered the problem that haunts all software projects: requirements change. In the case of statutory accounts (and Co...

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16th Oct 2009 14:35

How to output XBRL from Excel

This link has the insructions for creating XML files from and Excel spreadsheet. XBRL is only an XML standard so it will all go swimmingly !!!



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19th Oct 2009 09:05

iXBRL generation is not built into Excel

Excel has facilities to generate XML, but iXBRL is quite different to that. Even if the facility existed, you would have to manually mark up the data from a very long list of XBRL tags.

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By Anonymous
19th Oct 2009 09:06

Excel accounts, iXBRL compulsion
This seems yet another example of Government forcing taxpayers, etc. to have to buy expensive commercial programmes, just in order to comply with the law. We have seen it particularly in tax, where the Revenue's online software fails to cover many common circumstances. We have seen it in the compulsory submission of PAYE data by employers. It seems to be coming to V.A.T. and, no doubt, it will be extended to other areas. It is immoral to force ordinary people to buy not only these programmes but also the computer itself and the broadband service, just to comply with the law. The lack of tax relief (at least for ordinary people) in having to spend these sums just adds insult to injury.

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19th Oct 2009 09:10

HMRC could make iXBRL easier

I have been looking at iXBRL (from the perspective of filing the annual accounts with HMRC) in considerable detail over the last month or so, and have reached the following conclusions:

From HMRC’s point of view, iXBRL is extremely clever because they have very little to do! XBRL International maintain and update the XBRL standard. XBRL UK devise and maintain the UK taxonomies. HMRC just have to receive an iXBRL accounts file that they can view in a standard web browser. If they want (and no doubt they have), they can write software to scan key items. That is not difficult.

On the other hand, a large number of companies will have to go to considerable effort to prepare a potentially vast array of data in the most complicated accounts format known to man. In all probability, most of that data will never be used.

HMRC could alleviate the difficulties a little by:

Making the minimum tagging requirement (a cut down version of the full 4,000 or so items) a permanent simplification, and further reducing the number of tagsPhasing in when iXBRL accounts become mandatory. Large companies first in April 2011, medium sized companies a year later and small companies a year after that

Philip Hodgson
VT Software

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20th Oct 2009 11:53


I concur with Phil almost completely.

As to XBRL and the availability of affordable software to deliver these XBRL instances...

It seems that microsoft did have a tool for producing xbrl documents from excel back in 2005 - but if you follow the link it now takes you to a case study.  Apparently they stopped making it available when third party commercial software became available (and there was me thinking microsoft were the commercial ones...)

It seems that only Dragon Tag are willing to publish their prices on line - $1,295 for a single user single computer licence.

I would accordingly go further than Phil, and suggest that this move be cancelled altogether until HMRC come up with an effective free office to XBRL tool which will allow us to comply with their demands.

On a legal front, is this requirement to file in XBRL in the Companies Act 2006?  "XBRL" is not mentioned once in the act, neither is "online".  Sections 441 et seq refer only to the Duty to deliver, without specifying how.




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By cbales
29th Oct 2009 18:02

Looks as if TaxCalc are well on the ball in this area


Follow the above link to an article in the Suppliers Area.

They are also offering free software and I think it might prove quite popular, follow


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