LCR Systems have software for the hospitality and retail sector that can interface with Xero

Saint & Co thank LCR Systems,  one of our sponsors at BITE2018 for their support at our successful event last year and for writing this article about their software that can integrate with Xero.

L.C.R. Systems  partners with Saint and Co,  in providing their clients with the option of a fully interfaced link between Point of Sale and the Businesses Accounting Software.

L.C.R. Systems has been of service to businesses throughout Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Lancashire since the early 1970’s

L.C.R. Systems is recognised in the industry as a leading E.P.O.S. provider with a first class reputation. All our installed Systems are maintained and supported by our highly trained support staff on a 7 days a week basis either remotely or on your Business premises.

Jupiter our latest Windows based Software package for Hospitality and Retail now has the capability to interface with the popular Xero Accounting System. This in turn allows your Business to share key financial data between Point of Sale and Accounts.

With the requirement for digital filing of your business VAT returns from the 1st April 2019 increase your Businesses efficiency and accuracy by installing a fully interfaced System.

We would be happy to come and talk through with you the benefits of Jupiter E.P.O.S and how we can in increase your Business profitability.

Mark Proctor, Sales Director

 

 

 

The Cloud Isn’t Witchcraft!

Xero, cloud accounting

“We don’t save the numbers to our computer. Where do they go? Are they safe? How do they get from my laptop to my phone? Everything’s paperless. I’m telling you, the cloud is witchcraft!”

Just when we thought we’d heard it all… No, the cloud isn’t black magic. But it is more than a little misunderstood. That’s why we wanted to send this blog post to shed some light on what it is, how it works, and why we love it.

What is the cloud?

In the most basic terms, the cloud is essentially a metaphor for the internet.

Back in the early 90s, computer scientists had to find a way to display “the network” in their presentations. The network in question was a group of computers and storage devices (a server-farm), held elsewhere, off-site.

The image they used was that of a cloud, and the name stuck.

How does it work?

Unlike typical computing, where you save data or run programs from your hard drive, cloud computing is all about utilizing the internet. You don’t physically store anything on your own computer; rather, it’s stored elsewhere, held on powerful internet-connected computers spread around the globe.

So long as you have an internet connection, you can log in to an application and access your data quickly and securely.

Why we love the cloud

Here at Saint & Co., we’re passionate advocates for the cloud, and cloud accounting in particular. We encourage our clients to make the switch to Xero and experience the benefit of real-time numbers and instant access to up-to-date accounts, from anywhere, and at any time.

The major advantage of the cloud is that you can access information across a range of internet-connected devices. In the office? Log onto Xero and run a few reports. Out and about meeting clients? Pull up the Xero smartphone app and double check key figures or the status of an invoice before your meeting.

And because the cloud uses powerful remote servers to handle the computing and data storage, you can save money on hardware costs. In days gone by, an in-house desktop accounting system would, at the very least, require a powerful computer to run it. For larger businesses, they often needed their own server (complete with running and maintenance costs).

Thanks to the cloud, you don’t need an expensive machine to use quality accounting software. It does the heavy lifting for you, making the whole approach more affordable than ever before.

Finally, we love the cloud because it makes our lives easier. We can collaborate with you on your accounts, and see what you see, as you see it. We’re not left scrambling for information, or working with out-of-date figures, and that means we can provide you with the very best advice, backed by real numbers.

Switch to the cloud with Saint & Co.

Interested in learning more about the cloud and cloud accounting software? We can show you the ropes – with no broomsticks or cauldrons in sight!

Our accountancy software training service can have you up and running in no time at all.

Contact us today to speak with one of our team members.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) and Farming

MTD, farming, VAT, Xero

As you will have no doubt heard, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are introducing a new way to file a business’ VAT returns from 1 April 2019. For VAT registered businesses with a turnover over the VAT threshold, currently £85,000, this is generally mandatory – there are exceptions, via religious beliefs, age exception and internet speed, however HMRC do not anticipate too many businesses falling within these criteria.

What does it entail?

In simple terms, VAT returns must be filed digitally direct from software, with all the transactional detail that make up a VAT return’s figures being within software. This will come into force for the first VAT return commencing after 1 April 2019, so if you have a May 2019 VAT return, the first VAT return on the new system would be the quarter to 31 August 2019. If you have monthly VAT returns, it would be the month of April 2019.

Which software?

There are many providers of MTD enabled software on the market, most on a subscription basis, so which do you choose? Your accountant may suggest one they prefer, however, it may not provide the management detail you would prefer. If you are looking for a reasonably priced software, yet easy to use and tailored to farming, then Farmplan Cash Focus or Cash Manager could be the right fit for your business. Other mainstream software packages including QuickBooks, Sage and Xero are also available, however, they may not provide the management detail of benefit to you and your business.

As accountants, we are happy to work with any of the above, and others too. We suggest a software package that suits your own requirements and needs, and can talk through the prices of different packages with you. If you would like a demonstration of Farmplan, then please just contact your usual contact or any of the Saint & Co farming team.

The costs

Farmplan Cash Focus is £198 + VAT per year on an annual contract. This software is simply analysing the bank transactions and any other business income/expenses not through the main bank account, with the facility to produce a variety of reports from the data held, together with filing of the VAT. The software is desktop software with the facility of cloud backups, and should suit many farmers. As accountants, we can then use the data for annual accounts, cash flow projections and much more. Other variants of Farmplan, giving extra functionality come at extra cost.

Xero, QuickBooks and Sage pricing is around £10 to £25 per month, depending on the version you use. Each has its own merits, and may be of more relevance to your own business.

If you would prefer Saint & Co to do your VAT calculations, then please contact us. Preparing your VAT quarterly will help to prepare your annual accounts, and can also help with tax planning opportunities throughout the year.

Have staff?

If you require payroll functionality, then all the software above have payroll software capabilities, albeit, this will be at extra cost – costs being dependent generally on the number of employees.

If you want to know more, talk through your options, or discuss anything else, please contact us

Common Xero VAT errors and queries

I have already published common Xero bank errors and queries and common Xero supplier and customer errors and queries.      In this third and final blog in the series I  will outline Xero VAT errors and queries.

Why it is important to publish your VAT returns in Xero

Even if you still file your VAT returns through the HMRC website (although with Making Tax Digital looming this may not be an option for much longer) it is still important to publish your VAT return in Xero as this marks all the transactions that appear on that particular VAT return so they cannot appear on another VAT return in the future.

If you do not publish the VAT return in Xero and any late invoices are entered, if you try to recreate that VAT return on Xero (i.e. in the case of an inspection from HM Revenue and Customs [HMRC]), Xero will include the late invoices in the VAT return figures, even though they did not appear on the original VAT return, as Xero cannot distinguish when the invoice was entered, it just uses the invoice date.  This means that, unless you publish your VAT return in Xero, you can never get back to the figures submitted at the time.

By publishing this return in Xero, any invoices or payments that are entered for an earlier period after the VAT return has been filed will be picked up on the next VAT return, as Xero will include any late transactions if a previous return has been published in Xero.  If a VAT return is not published in Xero, then Xero cannot pick up any of these late claims and all the input VAT on these late invoices will be lost.

To publish your VAT return in Xero once you have reviewed it, click on the green File VAT now button at the bottom of the VAT return, and click on the green File & Publish button on the next page.  If you want to file with HMRC through Xero enter your government gateway user ID and password on the next page and click the green File & Publish button now.  If you do not want to file with HMRC through Xero take the tick out of the “File now with HMRC” box and click the green Publish VAT button.  Just remember in this instance to go onto the HMRC website and file your VAT return before the due date.

If you need any help with Xero please contact me at the Carlisle Office or email me michelle.ruddick@saint.co.uk

 

BITE 2018 Recap: An Event to Remember

Xero, tech, Carlisle

150 attendees.

9 speakers.  

One unforgettable day.

BITE 2018 took Carlisle Racecourse by storm on Friday the 12th of October. Business owners from across the North of England came together to learn how innovative technology could transform their business – with a firm focus on Xero.

In this blog post, we take a look back at how the event came to be, the behind-the-scenes graft, and the results of a terrific and inspiring day.

A Brief History of BITE

The initial idea for a local business event hosted by Saint & Co. came about when our partner, Andrew Liddle, attended Xerocon London in 2017. He witnessed first-hand the impact the event had on himself and his colleagues, and he knew that many of our 2500 clients would benefit greatly from using Xero.

But how could we get them excited about that prospect? How could we best demonstrate what was possible? Andrew very quickly realised that a Xerocon-style event (only smaller) would be a game-changer in Carlisle.

And with the help of Karen Reyburn of The Profitable Firm, we set about putting it in motion.

What Went Into Creating BITE 2018?

A lot of hard work!

BITE 2018 was six months in the making, from event planning, branding and marketing, to securing venue hire, sponsorship, and speakers.

  • Logo & Branding – The BITE concept was originally created by Brighton-based firm MHA Carpenter Box. With their blessing, we amended the logo to include our signature Saint blue.
  • Marketing – The Profitable Firm created a dedicated website for BITE 2018, with all of the important information neatly displayed across each page. This was complemented by their carefully planned content marketing campaign, complete with event invites, emails, and blog posts.
  • Venue Hire – We knew we needed somewhere bright and modern to reflect the ethos of BITE, and Carlisle Racecourse more than fit the bill. The spacious main room gave us plenty of space to fit our attendees and exhibitors without feeling claustrophobic, and with 9 TV screens, everyone had a great view of our speakers’ slides.
  • Sponsors – We secured a number of local and national sponsors, which allowed us to push the event to a wider audience, and also connect our attendees with important networking opportunities.
  • Speakers – Finally, the most important part of any conference or event, we confirmed an impressive lineup of speakers: John Stevenson (MP), Ashleigh Lambert (Xero), Karen Reyburn (The Profitable Firm), and Andrew & Pete (content marketing duo).

The Result? See For Yourself

Watch our video summary of the day’s events below to see it all come together:

In Summary

BITE 2018 was a smashing success, but don’t take our word for it! Here’s a small sample of the incredible feedback we received:

“Possibly the best event I have been to!” – Angela Roberts

“Thank you for providing a breadth of high quality speakers for free” – Julia Cater

Our attendees were enthusiastic and ready to learn from the outset, and our speakers did not disappoint. Full of energy and knowledge, they crammed so much into such a short space of time.

Did you miss out on BITE 2018? Don’t worry – we’re already hard at work on the plan for BITE 2019! Register your interest here.

Read a comprehensive case study of BITE over on the Profitable Firm’s website.

Common Xero bank errors and queries

I am often approached to help with or solve errors on Xero.  In this first of a series of three blogs I cover common Xero bank errors and queries.   Parts 2 and 3 will cover Xero supplier and customer errors and queries and VAT errors and queries respectively.

Bank balance does not match to the statement balance

Firstly, would you know whether your bank balance in Xero matches your real bank balance, and secondly why should this be important to you?

To deal with the second point first – this check is singularly one of the most important things to do when using Xero, especially if you are manually uploading your bank statements into Xero.  If your bank balance in Xero does not match your real bank balance then something has gone wrong; a transaction could be duplicated or missing, and to put it bluntly, your accounts are wrong, which means more work for your accountant at the year-end.

To check whether the balance matches you need to look at your bank on the Dashboard in Xero

 

 

 

 

 

 

and note what the Statement balance line is (not the Balance in Xero line – we’ll come to that one later), and compare this to the actual bank balance at the same date on your bank statement or online banking.

If the Statement balance line and the actual bank balance figures match, then you are doing okay.

If the two figures do not match then either the opening balance is wrong or there is an error in the transactions imported into Xero.  Follow the steps below to find the error:-

  1. If you are just starting out check the opening bank balance is entered correctly. If it is not, then amend it.
  2. Look on the account transactions tab to see when the Statement balance last matched the actual bank balance

To get to the account transactions tab click on the 3 little dots above the Balance in Xero line on the bank account on the dashboard and click account transactions. Make sure these are in date order (click on date to re-order).

  1. Run the Bank reconciliation Summary report for 1 month after the date the balances last matched and compare the balance on the report to the actual bank balance at the same date. If the balances match then run the report for the following month and check again.  Keep doing this until you find a month where the balances do not match – the error must have occurred within this date range.
  2. Narrow the range down until the error is identified. It will usually be:-
    1. A missing transaction
    2. A duplicate transaction
  • A transaction deleted in error
  1. A transaction manually reconciled in error
  1. To correct the errors above
    1. Import a bank statement file for the missing transactions
    2. Delete a duplicate transaction
      1. click on the cross next the date in the bank reconcile screen or remove and redo from the accounts transaction tab
  • Restore a transaction deleted in error
    1. Go to manage account and click bank statements
    2. Put a tick in the box next to the deleted statement line
    3. Click restore
  1. Delete the manual entry that has been reconciled
    1. Go to manage account and click bank statements
    2. Put a tick in the box next to the reconciled statement line
    3. Click delete
  2. Repeat as necessary

Now your Statement balance line should match to your actual bank balance at the same date.

Balance in Xero line does not match to Statement balance on the Dashboard

In most cases the difference between the two bank balances shown on the Dashboard in Xero is the (in this case 27) items to reconcile.  Once these items are reconciled then the balances should agree, and Xero will tell you that you have done a “Great job”!

If they don’t then check the accounts transactions tab for unreconciled manual amounts (via the 3 little dots on the dashboard) and clicking on status to put the unreconciled items at the top.

These items are fine to be there if the transaction has been created in Xero but has just not appeared on your bank account in Xero yet.

However, if there are manual unreconciled items in there that you know have already appeared on your bank reconciliation then these items need attention.  They often occur when new transactions are created during a bank reconciliation rather than matching to items already manually created in Xero (perhaps because they are for a slightly different amount).  To delete any duplicate manually transactions put a tick in the box on the left hand side and click remove and redo.

How to code a supplier payment during the bank reconciliation when you haven’t yet received the invoice or are making payments on account

From the bank reconciliation screen, click on add details on the bottom left hand side of the blue box.

  • Change the “Spent as” from Direct payment to Overpayment.
  • Enter the supplier name as it appears in your contacts list in the “To” box
  • Enter a description of why you have overpaid (i.e. paid twice in error or awaiting invoice)
  • Check the amount and that the account code is accounts payable
  • Click Save transaction and reconcile

This transaction will then show as a negative on your aged payables report.

The next time you approve an invoice for this supplier Xero will inform you that you are in credit with them and you can choose to allocate the earlier overpayment against the new invoice (if it is the correct invoice to set against the credit).

If you need any help with Xero please contact me at the Carlisle Office or email me michelle.ruddick@saint.co.uk

 

Find out about Xero on our ‘Xero Drop In Day’ – 5th December 2018

Join us at our next Xero Drop In Day – tea and coffee available
on Wednesday 5th December 2018
at
Saint & Co, Sterling House, Wavell Drive, Rosehill, Carlisle, CA1 2SA
9.00 am – 6.00 pm

Are you an existing user of Xero Cloud Accounting Software?

Do you need help using the software or would you like to learn more about how cloud accounting could boost your business?

Saint & Co are Xero Platinum Partners.   Thanks to our newly acquired platinum status more and more of our partners and staff are “Xero” certified.

Drop in and chat to our friendly staff who will be on hand all day to help with any queries or questions you may have about using the software.

If you do not currently use Xero, why not book onto one of four hour long,demonstrations being held at 9.00, 12.00 noon, 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm.  Let us introduce you and your business to this cloud accounting software which is becoming more and more popular with our clients.

Visit our events page for more details.

A quick look back at the Borderway Agri Expo

On Friday the 2nd of November, Saint & Co. attended the 12th annual Borderway Agri Expo.

As one of the UK’s largest agricultural events, it was a terrific opportunity for some of the Saint team to meet existing and potential clients already working in the industry, and to offer accountancy advice specifically tailored to the farming community.

The event itself was a lively and vibrant showcase of the best quality sheep and beef cattle, along with the latest in farming practice developments, cutting-edge machinery, equipment, and technology. What’s more, a number of important discussions were led around topics such as the environment, exports, and livestock marketing.

Our Farm Advisor, Will Robinson, had this to say:

“Once again, the Borderway Agri Expo was a truly fantastic event, with many of our current – and some prospective – clients coming to see us at our stand for a chat. Some wanted to discuss Making Tax Digital and Xero, while others were keen to learn more about the Farmplan accounting software. Lucky for us, Farmplan had their stand right next to ours, which worked out well.”

“We had lots of visitors, and our branded merchandise (torches and bottle openers) were very popular. In fact, we ran out in the first hour! We also ran a free prize draw, with one lucky person scooping a £100 gift voucher at the end of the event.”

“All in all, it was a great day – we met a number of passionate farming professionals and provided plenty of expert guidance. I’m sure next year’s Expo will be even bigger, and even better. I’ve already circled it in my diary.”

Were you at the Borderway Agri Expo and missed us? Get in touch to chat with one of our farming experts.

BITE 2018 Recap: How accounting sits at the core of your business

Xero, tech, BITE 2018

On Friday the 12th of October, 2018, hundreds of business owners descended on Carlisle Racecourse to spend the day learning about Business, Innovation, Technology, and Efficiency.

Or ‘BITE’ for short.

Saint & Co. welcomed a number of guest speakers to the stage to share their insight and expertise. And we couldn’t be more pleased to have had the brains behind BITE – our very own Andrew Liddle – kick things off in the morning with his talk called ‘How accounting sits at the core of your business.’

If you missed the event, or you’d like to refresh your memory, here is an edited transcript of Andrew’s talk:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

For those of you who do not know me, I am Andrew Liddle, a partner at Saint & Co., and the person who had the idea to bring this event to our community.

When looking through the final running order for today, we realised that there was an omission – so there is change to our running order this morning. You will be pleased to know there will be a tea and coffee break at 11am!

My Inspiration

The idea (for BITE) came to me when I attended a conference held by Xero – we use Xero internally for a significant number of our quarterly and monthly bookkeeping assignments for clients. I was visiting to see what the latest developments to the software we use were, and to see what was coming next in terms of features and enhancements.

The event was held at the Excel Arena, and as I entered the exhibition hall I was immediately struck by the number of people attending, and the huge array of applications that connected directly into Xero.

Yes, some of these applications were related directly to the accounting function, but a number were dealing with other business areas, such as advertising and marketing, which are traditionally outside the accounting function but used Xero as the hub of these tasks.

This intrigued me, and I spent the best part of two days looking at these applications and listening to talks about the impact of technology. At the conference I met Karen – whose firm we use for our marketing – and we were talking about how rapidly the technologies are moving and how this creates opportunities and threats, and realised that a smaller, focused event would be of interest to the business community our firm serves. Our businesses want to learn, develop and improve, and why should they have to travel to the major cities to do so when we could bring an event like BITE to them here?

This event was also where I first became aware of our keynote speakers this afternoon, Andrew and Pete, who stood out from all the talks I attended over those two days as the ones I would most want to hear again.

Finally, I would like to thank my fellow partners for embracing this idea to enable us to bring it to you all today.

A Story of Innovation

From the receipt of a ZX Spectrum some 40 years ago, I have always been interested in technology and innovation. The ZX Spectrum brought computers into the home environment for the first time.  All programs were installed via a cassette tape and could take up to 10 minutes to load as you sat eagerly awaiting the installation of your new game – Manic Miner and Daley Thompson’s Decathlon were particular favourites!

Some would say that 10 minutes to load a program is quick in comparison to the time you’re sat waiting for Windows to download and install the latest security patch on your computer.

Throughout the 80s and early 90s, computers were gradually becoming more and more commonplace in the workplace and the home. When I first started at Saint, we had 4 computers in the entire office which we had to book a slot to use. Most sets of accounts were produced on handwritten schedules, with the finished accounts produced on typewriters.

Giant Leaps; Same Old Mistakes

Now we have a server in every office, computers on every desk, with the majority of staff using 2 screens to ease multi-tasking, and the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.

It will not be long once Elon Musk’s space tourism business commences where it will be possible to file your VAT return while orbiting the moon. Or, more likely, sharing selfies on your social media platforms while commenting that the freeze-dried rocket food you have been served on the flight tastes just like chicken!

Throughout all these technological advances, we still see that a large number of clients continue to bring in their accounting records months after the event, which makes their numbers simply a historic scorecard.

A significant minority of our clients are using the improvements in technology and software applications available to have their accounting information accessible in real-time. And they use this data to enhance their business and personal life.

The story I am about to tell is one such example.

Meet ‘David’

I have a client who, to protect his identity, I am going to call David.

Now, David runs his own business and is successful, but the one thing he hates is paying tax. I used to dread his phone calls every time he had to make a payment to the Inland Revenue, as he would always say “how much?” and “is this correct?”

“Yes”, I would reply, “it is correct and you need to pay it by the end of the month.”

The industry he operates has become increasingly regulated to such an extent that he was faced with having to submit quarterly accounts to his regulator within 6 weeks of the quarter end. So he rings me up and says he has this problem and, as he is the chief cook and bottle washer, he is going to need some help as he doesn’t have enough hours in the day to cope with this change.

David’s record keeping in the past was simply a box of his bank statements in order, paying in books filled in fully, and chequebook stubs fully completed. They always arrived 4 months after his year-end, so by the time we got around to discussing these figures, they were out of date.

When we had this conversation, Saint had recently conducted a review of the cloud accounting providers at this time, and as a firm, we had selected Xero to be the one we would recommend if asked. I thought to myself, we have the opportunity to try this now for real.

A Chance for Change

I said to him, yes, we can help, but we would have to change how we processed his transactions. I explained that we would use this new cloud accounting technology to assist with him this. He said, “that’s great but I don’t want to pay any more fees.” I said they would have to be an increase, but it would be sensible to reflect the increased work.

So we set-up Xero and obtained a direct feed of his bank account transactions. He never processed a transaction, although he said he would, so we had to do the processing for him.

The first couple of quarters were a pain as we were back and forth identifying transactions  and getting him to use a debit card for payments rather than cheques – to a point where we simply gave him a quick call to go through a couple of  transactions we could identify directly from the bank feed to allocate the correct code.

A Bit More Back and Forth

During these phone calls, I said to him “you’ve had a good start to the year, but you’ll have a hefty tax bill if this continues.”

“Really?” he said, “how much?”

I told him if this continued he would have this figure to pay, and when he would have to pay it by.

After a few curses, he asked “what can I do about it?”

We talked through his options. Increasing his salary was considered. “I would have to pay too much tax on that if I increase, and I would only spend it down the pub!” he said.

He eventually decided that he would make a regular pension contribution for his retirement, and he would transfer 20% of his profit each quarter into a deposit account to cover his tax bill. And then in quarter 4 of his financial year, he would consider making a top-up to his pension if he was having a better-than-expected year.

A Happy Ending

I now no longer get the phone calls each time David has a tax bill to pay. He has the money set aside to cover it, and he knows that he has done all that he can to minimise the amounts.

He does still ring me when his bill is due for payment, as he likes to keep us on our toes. But a quick reminder of what we do for him, that he’s not stressing that his regulatory reporting will be completed on time (so he can enjoy his Friday night in the pub), and that he now has provision in place for his retirement, which he has saved corporation tax on, is met by a “I know, I know. I just need to have grumble at something.”

So today we’re bringing this new way of working to you all, with the aim of showing you the available possibilities. Our speakers and exhibitors have been carefully selected to raise your awareness and to show that there is a different way of doing all of this.

In Summary: Overcoming Barriers with Making Tax Digital

We have all attended events, read articles or had thoughts on improving our business, but are worried about the status quo being damaged. So we introduce barriers to implementing change.

However, like David, there is a change coming: Making Tax Digital – MTD for short. And this change is not going to target a specific industry; it is going to impact all VAT-registered business owners.

This change is being introduced from April next year, and the reality of Making Tax Digital is that you and I are now going to have to prepare our accounting records digitally to be able to submit a digital VAT return.  Here at Saint, we think this new initiative should have been named Making Accounts Digital, as it makes it easier to explain this change. However, with an acronym of ‘MAD’, this would not have lasted the first press release!

So, an action point from today is to make sure your business is ready for MTD.

This disruptor removes the status quo and removes the barriers to change as, unless you are already doing so, you are going to have to change and bring your accounting function into the very heart of your business.

Your record keeping can longer be an afterthought. Use this precious data to enable you to gain a greater understanding to your business; to understand how your cash flow varies over time; why, at certain times of the year, you are at the limit of your funding facilities; and once you become aware of the issue, then you can look at ways to alleviate it.

From your digital accounts, you now have information, and with relevant information, you can make informed decisions. But with a multitude of information at your fingertips, what details should you be looking at and using?

This is where your Trusted Advisor comes the fore

Who is your Trusted Advisor?

Studies have shown that most business owners see the accountant as their Trusted Advisor.

In the age of automation and artificial intelligence, this advisor becomes even more important. Some will ask why, and I would reply that we are human. We understand that not all the decisions we make are simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are other factors in play, such as our own hopes and fears, which result in decisions that are grey.

At this moment time, the machines will not be able to cope with the answer “it depends”, and from my experience, people still like dealing with people.

As I said earlier in my talk, as a practice we have heavily invested in Xero and have recently become a Platinum Partner.

So, let me welcome to the stage Ashleigh Lambert from Xero, who will share her knowledge of Xero and the importance of the connections between people, and how their technology cements these relationships.

Ignore Making Tax Digital at your peril!

Xero, HMRC, VAT

Less than 6 months now to go until tax gets digital via H M Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) “Making Tax Digital” initiative. Yet a huge 40% of the affected businesses know nothing about it and have made no plans to conform with the new requirements for submission of their VAT Returns.

From 1 April 2019 VAT registered businesses with turnover above the VAT registration limit (£85,000) must submit their VAT Returns using HMRC approved digital software. The present online VAT filing system will be removed for businesses meeting the MTD criteria. The first VAT Return for a business’ VAT Return period starting after 1 April 2019 must be submitted digitally via “Application Programmed Interfaced” software (this just means that the digital software used must be capable of communicating with HMRC’s own digital software).

Whilst HMRC are expected to be lenient for the first year until people get their digital systems in place, they have published a penalty regime which will come into force from 1 April 2020 for late submissions and payments.

The regime is points based and will only apply to returns with a regular filing frequency e.g. monthly, quarterly or annually. It will not apply to occasional returns e.g. a return to report a one-off transaction.

A taxpayer will receive one point every time they fail to make a return on time. A penalty will be charged and notified once the taxpayer has reached the threshold penalty applicable to the frequency of submission periods as follows:-

Submission frequency Penalty threshold
Annual 2 points
Quarterly 4 points
Monthly 5 points

Points will have a lifetime of two years calculated from the month after the month in which the failure occurred.  Points will expire after a period of good compliance i.e. filing returns on time as long as all returns due within the preceding 24 months have been submitted.  The regime for period of good compliance is again set on the frequency of the returns as follows:-

Submission frequency Period of good compliance
Annual 2 submission
Quarterly 4 submissions
Monthly 6 submissions

As yet HMRC have not issued the amount of the financial penalty to be charged but Saints will keep you advised of this.

As everyone knows time flies, so it is sensible for VAT registered business to look at their record-keeping systems for VAT now and consider switching to an HMRC approved digital package.

Here at Saints we have been planning for our clients’ needs in light of this expected development for some time.  To this end we have adopted Xero Cloud software which has been approved by HMRC as being digitally compliant.  We offer clients flexibility in that we can supply them with Xero and provide the necessary training for businesses to use the package themselves.  Alternatively, advances in technology mean that we can offer clients a fee competitive package to maintain the required book-keeping and submit the digital returns – leaving businesses to concentrate on their day to day operations without worrying about VAT return submission deadlines.

Contact your local Saint & Co Office to learn how this could work for your business and receive a fee quote which could relieve you of a lot of hassle and stress!