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Take Charge of Your Day-to-Day Bookkeeping

If you're just starting up in business, your accountant will have stressed how important it is to stay on top of your bookkeeping.Bookkeeping

Although other elements of your business may seem more pressing, it's essential to set aside enough time each week to ensure that your books are in order - keep putting it off and you'll quickly find that your accounts become unmanageable.

Here are five key ways to take charge of your bookkeeping.

  1. With the help of your accountant, create a calendar or spreadsheet of important tax-related dates. Place it where it's easily visible. If you have a permanent reminder of key dates you'll know what needs to be done by when.
  2. Implement a system that ensures you can maintain three sets of records.
    • cash book - keep a record of all the transactions into and out of your business account.
    • purchase invoices - keep a chronological record of how and when you pay your invoices.
    • sales invoices - again, maintain a chronological record of when and who you have invoiced, and when you get paid.

    Ask your accountant if he or she can recommend appropriate accounting software for your business. A good program will help you keep on top of all your income and outgoings. However it's essential that you receive the proper training. A badly used accounting program is much less effective than paper records and files. Either way, a good system will make your accountant's life much easier and keep your costs down. And remember if you do go down the accounting software route, make regular backups of your data.

  3. Keep your personal and business accounts entirely separate. Although you may own your business outright, if you start to use your business account to pay for private items of expenditure your accounts will be much harder to reconcile. In the event of a tax enquiry by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) your private bank account will be treated as a business account if you are using it regularly to make payments or bank any sales receipts there.
  4. Depending on the type and complexity of your business, try to be consistent about when you do your books. It's tempting to do them at the end of the day or week. However this is when you're likely to be most tired and potentially make mistakes. Try to do your books in the morning. The more frequently you do your accounts the easier they are to maintain.
  5. Get help and advice whenever you feel things are going astray. It's counterproductive to let your accounts get on top of you as you're more likely to make mistakes. If necessary employ a part-time bookkeeper to help you stay on track. The bookkeeper will likely prove cost effective in the longer term.

Keeping up-to-date accurate records and regularly reconciling your accounts is your responsibility. As well as making your life easier when it comes to your year end, good record keeping will also provide important financial information that will help you run your business more efficiently.

Cloud Accounting can show you how to automate bookkeeping to significantly reduce time and avoid costly errors.

5 ways cloud accounting will improve your life

Cloud accounting systems are revolutionary. How do I know? Well, my accounting practice has been using the cloud for a number of years, and we have shared this passion with many of our business clients. 90% of our clients now use cloud accounting systems too. We have seen firsthand how the cloud accounting systems impact our business clients’ lives. How? The cloud solution has reduced or eliminated redundant, time-consuming work that—let’s face it—is the bane of most businesses.work life balance

Mostly, cloud accounting allows greater access to real-time data, which increases engagement with businesses financials and assists in making decisions. You have probably seen or heard yourself about all the cloud accounting systems that are now available for you to utilise in your business, including Xero and FreeAgent. I would like to share with you some of the reasons clients and accountants love working in the cloud:

Multiple versions of data files are gone, and backup is automatic

No more version-control data files. No more time-consuming upgrades to that one computer that has the accounting software loaded on it, or large accounting data files taking up all that space. Plus, no more data backups required. Good riddance.

The files remains in real time, all the time. 

Even when you are working on the file, your accountant or bookkeeper can be working on the file at the same time. This allows the accountant to interact with you in real time and assist you with any questions about data entry or what the financials are reflecting. It encourages better communication and use of your accountant, who is your trusted adviser.

Data entry is so yesterday.

Why in this information age, when all transaction data is readily available in your banking system, should you have to manually re-enter it into your accounting software? What a waste of time and money! Cloud-based accounting systems allow you to upload or automatically bring “live feeds” of your bank account and credit card transaction data into your accounting stream. No keyboards touched; no download chore; no upload chore. Data entry time is drastically reduced. Speedy download of real-time data and working smoothly in intuitive software allow you to spend less time on administration and more time focusing on business growth.

Business owners can make better decisions. 

Old-fashioned software that requires you to manually do your own bookkeeping puts your business at a disadvantage because your accounting data is lagging behind reality. A modern business needs information that is real time and always up to date. How else can you make effective business decisions? Now you can access your live accounting data from anywhere, from any device with an internet connection—it’s total mobility.

It offers mobility, flexibility and a better lifestyle.

You can see your business account balances, outstanding invoices, overall cash position and much more from anywhere 24/7 as long as you can access an internet connection. These days, you can run your business from an iPad or similar tablet device and mobile phone as most cloud accounting systems have apps you can download to the device. This translates into a more flexible lifestyle while running your business. You can have certainty over the financials and banking even when you are not physically present in your business. So go on—call that travel agent now.

Come fly into the cloud with Cloud Accounting (NI). Who ever thought accounting software could be so good?

Forming a Limited Company – FAQ’s

Forming a Limited Company – FAQ’s

  Have you been thinking about forming a limited company from your existing business, but don’t understand the pros & cons – well here is a list of frequently asked questions my clients ask regarding the process of setting up and running a limited company.  If you have any additional questions, please contact Richard at […]

What is Pension Auto Enrolment?

The law has changed and your employer must offer you a workplace pension to save for your future, here is how it will work.

What is auto enrolment?

It is when you are put into a workplace pension automatically.

Automatic enrolment was introduced in October 2012 and requires employers to provide a workplace pension for their eligible employees.

The auto enrolment process has already started for larger companies first, followed by smaller companies with the aim of enrolling all eligible employees by April, 2019.

How does it work?

If you are an 'eligible employee' you will automatically start paying into a workplace pension set-up by your employer, who will also make a contribution on your behalf.

The government will also contribute a percentage towards your pension as a tax relief.

The date your employer starts auto enrolment is called the staging date.

You can use your PAYE (Pay As You Earn) reference, to find out when your employers staging date is by visiting The Pensions Regulator website.Where can you find your PAYE reference?

Do you qualify?

Only if you are an 'eligible employee'. This means you are:

  • At least 22 years old
  • Working in the UK
  • Earning a minimum of £10,000 each year
  • Not paying into a workplace pension already
  • Not yet at the state pension age (find out your pension age)

Within 6 weeks of your staging date you will be given a document from your employer, which will include:

  1. Your personal details, e.g. name, address
  2. Which pension you have been enrolled into
  3. The amount you will pay
  4. The amount your employer will pay
  5. Information on opting-out of the pension
  6. A declaration of compliance

The declaration of compliance lets you know your employer has correctly followed their employer duties in setting up your pension.

If you do not get one, make sure you ask your employer or contact The Pensions Regulator.

What if you do not qualify?

There are two main reasons why you may not qualify for auto enrolment:

  1. You do not meet the eligibility criteria
  2. You already pay into a workplace pension which meets the government's standards

You can still ask your employer to let you:

  • Opt-into the auto enrolment pension scheme. Even if you are not eligible for automatic enrolment, you may still be able to join. Your employer will also have to make a contribution if you are added.
  • Pay into a separate pension scheme if you cannot opt in. Your employer does not need to make any contributions if you do this.

Do you have to auto enrol?

No, while you will be automatically enrolled if you are eligible, you can choose to cancel your enrolment after the staging date. This is known as 'opting out'.

To opt out, you must complete an 'opt out form' and give it back to your employer.

The earlier you decide to opt out, the better the chance of getting the money you paid in back, for example:

  • Opt out within first month: You will get all of your contributions back in full.
  • Opt out after first month: It is unlikely you will get your money back until you reach your retirement age, however this depends on the pension scheme your employer enrols you onto.

Your employer must put you back into the pension every three years. This is in case your financial situation changes and you would benefit from the pension scheme and government contributions at a later date. You will still have the option to opt out every three years.

How much do you need to pay in?

The amount you and your employer have to pay into your pension will gradually increase over the next few years.

The maximum combined contribution will be 8% from April 2019, here is how your payments will be calculated, based on your qualifying earnings:

Who paysUntil March 2018From April 2018From April 2019
You0.8%2.4%4%
Employer1%2%3%
Government tax relief0.2%0.6%1%
Overall contribution2%5%8%

What are your qualifying earnings?

This is worked out by taking your yearly income and deducting the qualifying threshold for pensions, which is £5,876 in the 2017/18 tax year.

For example, if your employer pays you £25,000 a year, the figure of £5,876 will be deducted. This means you have £19,124 of qualifying earnings.

The following table shows how much will be contributed to towards your pension:

Who paysUntil March 2018From April 2018From April 2019
You£153.41£460.22£767.04
Employer£191.76£383.52£575.28
Government tax relief£38.35£115.06£191.76
Overall contribution£383.52£958.80£1534.08

Figures in table represent annual deductions based on earnings remaining the same for each year.

What type of pension will you get?

Your employer will choose a pension scheme, but they will give you all the details about it. There are two popular types of pension scheme:

Defined benefit pension schemes - This type of pension is based on your earnings over the entire length of your employment. 

Two examples of this type of pension are the final salary schemes and career average revalued earnings (CARE) schemes.

Defined contribution pension schemes - Also known as money purchase schemes, this type of pension will invest your contributions, which you can usually review throughout the term of the scheme. 

Your retirement pay-out will be worked out based on how much you and your employer have contributed and how the scheme performs throughout the pension schemes term.Visit the Gov.uk website for more information on pension schemes

Does your employer have to auto enrol you?

Yes, if you are an eligible employee, your employer is required by law to enrol you onto their workplace pension, unless you are:

  • A member of the armed forces
  • The only person in a company (director)

If you are not on the exception list above and your employer refuses to enrol you into a pension, contact The Pensions Regulator for help

Part Accountant, Part Business Advisor

Part Accountant, Part Business Advisor

Today’s business accountant wears two hats – ‘bean counter’ and ‘business advisor’. The new breed of accountant can deliver good all-round advice on a wide range of business issues Business start-ups without an accountant in the team from the word go are courting disaster. While there may be few beans to count in those early […]

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Name: Cloud Accounting LLP
Email address: richard@cloudaccountingni.com
Phone: +447868663538