There are two types of accountant: A financial accountant and a management accountant. Black & White can offer both services.

The first and most crucial things is you must trust your accountant, which means they must be ready to build a good working relationship with them. Look out for a clear charging structure with no hidden costs.

It’s not a legal requirement to have an accountant if you are prepared to complete accounts to the appropriate level for your business structure. You must ask yourself if your time wold be better spent running your business or preparing accounts or a tax return.

We can offer a sliding scale of support to customers individually, whether that’s providing an oversight to advise and support them or to take on the whole burden of book keeping and preparing accounts. We work with a lot of small business that do their own book keeping and provide a checking service.

It is important to make sure that your accountant has qualified through one of the main accountancy bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants (either ICAEW or ICAS) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). These bodies hold their members to account in the event of bad practice, and so you’ll be afforded some protection if things go wrong.

Regulatory oversight of the UK accountancy profession transferred from the Accountancy Foundation and the Review Board to the FRC in 2004. The FRC is the UK’s independent regulator responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting. It sets codes and standards and also oversees the regulatory activities of the professional accountancy bodies.

Reforms were carried out in July 2012 to enable the FRC to operate as a unified regulatory body with enhanced independence. A new structure was implemented to ensure effective governance of all of the FRC’s regulatory activities which now come under ultimate responsibility of the FRC Board.

An accountant can e sure you avoid falling foul of the law and you remain tax compliant while reducing your tax bill. More and more, accountants should be able to offer you good business advice based on your accounts and using their experience.

The book keeper keeps an accurate, day-to-day record of all financial transactions of a business while the accountant builds on that information to provide a bigger picture of financial analysis after preparing an annual summary report for tax purposes. They can also offer advice.

  • Your limited company can charge Value Added Tax on the goods and services it sells. This is known as output tax.
  • Companies can reclaim VAT that they have paid on goods and services bought from other businesses. This is known as input tax.
  • Businesses are eligible for VAT refunds if they sell zero-rated products or services and purchase standard-rated products or services.
  • Voluntary VAT registration can make your company appear larger and more established. This can be particularly appealing to other VAT registered businesses and clients.
  • Displaying a VAT number on websites, business correspondence, invoices, and receipts may encourage larger firms to do business with your company. Many big companies, particularly those in the finance sector, will not even consider doing business with another firm if it doesn’t have a VAT number. It can also be advantageous to be able to produce a VAT invoice if requested by a client or customer.
  • Voluntary VAT registration can be backdated by up to 4 years if you can provide HMRC with the required evidence.

The cons

  • Charging VAT on certain products and services may be off putting to potential or existing customers, particularly if they themselves are not VAT registered. It is important to ensure VAT registration does not impact the desirability of your product or services by making them appear overpriced.
  • If output tax exceeds input tax, a business will be required to pay the difference to HMRC. This could cause potential problems if a business is faced with a large, unexpected VAT bill.
  • VAT registration comes with the added burden of extra administration and paperwork. Businesses have to maintain accurate VAT accounting records and invoices, and submit a quarterly VAT return. Although this can be a disadvantage for some, voluntary registration is worth the extra work for many businesses.
  • If during the course of any 12 months, your ‘taxable supplies’ exceed the VAT registration threshold, you are legally obliged to register for VAT.
  • The VAT registration threshold is set at £81,000 for the tax year. ‘Taxable supplies’ are anything that is subject to VAT. So, if your turnover of taxable supplies exceeds £81,000, or if you know that it will, you must register.
  • There are a couple of things to remember here. First of all, the threshold applies to turnover rather than profit – so many firms will be obliged to register very quickly. Furthermore, ‘taxable supplies’ includes any product or service that is liable for VAT, at any rate – including 0 per cent. It only excludes items that are VAT exempt. It is therefore important that you understand the different VAT rates, and their impact on your business.

If you trade as a sole trader, the deadline to register is 6th October following the end of the tax year in which you start to trade. If you intend to trade through a Limited Company I would suggest that you appoint a tax adviser as the compliance obligations are more onerous and professional advice is usually required.

It is actually very easy! If you have an existing relationship with your accountant, then out of common courtesy you could drop them a line, followed by an email telling them you are moving. Or… you can instruct Black And White (LINK – ACCOUNTING) and we will act on your behalf.

With any service or supply to your business you should review whether you feel you are getting value for money. A good Accountant will fully understand your business needs and what the plans are to grow your business in the future. They will assist you from explaining your allowable expenses for business, preparation of your V.A.T returns / Corporation taxes and completing self assessments tax forms. By contracting a good Accountant, you can free up your time so you can focus on what you do best and have peace of mind that your books are up to date and in order.

This depends on the size and structure of your business. You need to sit down with your accountant who will explain the pros and cons of remaining a sole trader, forming a partnership or incorporating as a limited company.

HMRC’s Tax Handbook gets thicker every year with regulations. If you want to make sure you’re legally claiming for all the expenses you’re entitled to, you should seek advice from your accountant.

We prepare all reports, arrange the necessary valuations, and communicate with creditors and the HMRC on your behalf. We explain each process and inform you of all available options at every stage, ensuring all regulations have been complied with.

A business plan conveys the organisational structure of your business, including titles of directors or officers and their individual duties. It also acts as a management tool that can be referred to regularly to ensure the business is on course with meeting goals, sales targets or operational milestones.

Not vital but it communicates what you’re about to others you want to get on board, such as an investor or partner.
To answer other questions contact Black & White Accounting [LINK] or ring us on 0800140 4644 and we’ll do our best to answer your query.

What should I look for in an accountant / book keeper?

Like any professional advisor, the most important thing is someone you want to work with; someone you trust and hopefully enjoy working with. It should be a positive working relationship where you can be open and honest about yourself and your business, so they can provide the best possible advice in your circumstances. Sometimes these meetings will be very easy, sometimes they will be very difficult.

Please also see below for more information on qualification and regulations on accountants and book keepers to help you select the best one for you.

For more information about what we offer and how we can work together, please get in touch with our team today.

Is it a legal requirement to have an accountant for my business?

It’s not a legal requirement to have an accountant if you are prepared to complete accounts and tax return to the appropriate level for your business structure. You may however ask yourself if your time would be better spent running your business or preparing accounts or a tax return.

For more information about how we can potentially save you time and money to enable you to focus on what you do best, please get in touch with our team today.

Can I do my own accounts and get you to check them?

We are client centric. What that means is we work around you, the way you want to work, how you want things done.

We therefore offer a sliding scale of support to customers to meet their needs, whether that’s an oversight with support only when they need it, to taking over the full burden of book keeping, accounts and tax returns. This is also likely to change over time, as your priorities change and your business evolves.

With the latest accounting and tax standards, it is often simpler for us to prepare and submit these on behalf of your business, but please get in touch with our team today to find out more about how we can work with you specifically.

What are your qualifications? What professional certifications do you have?

It is important to make sure that your accountant or book keeper has qualified through one of the main accountancy bodies such as the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, the Association of Accounting Technicians, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants (either ICAEW or ICAS) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

These bodies hold their members to account in the event of bad practice, and so you’ll be afforded protection if things go wrong.
Our practice is regulated by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Our Director, Jon Mills, is also personally regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).

We are also a training firm, so if you or anyone you know is potentially a budding book keeper or an amazing accountant, do get in touch.
For more information about qualifications in the industry, please get in touch with our team today.

How are accountants regulated?

Regulatory oversight of the UK accountancy profession transferred from the Accountancy Foundation and the Review Board to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in 2004. The FRC is the UK’s independent regulator responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting. It sets codes and standards and also oversees the regulatory activities of the professional accountancy bodies. This forms the framework which Accountancy bodies apply for their members, and the Profession as a whole is self-regulated as some practices choose not to be regulated.

Our practice is regulated by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Our Director, Jon Mills, is also personally regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). However, not all Accountancy practices are regulated and this is something to watch-out for, when choosing your accountancy provider.

For more information about regulation in the industry, please get in touch with our team today.

What are the benefits of having a book keeper?

If you have a good book keeper they will be a value to you, not a cost. They should know you and your business and therefore be well placed to provide the support and advice you need throughout the year. They can save you time and ensure your financials and records are in a good place, so you can focus on what you do best, your business. Would you prefer to grow your business or wade through Excel or Xero for weeks at a time?

When using someone external you also only pay for what you use, so it can work out cheaper than having someone extra on your payroll to do the tasks at hand, especially as our book keepers are very efficient and specialised at what they do.

Your needs here will also change throughout the year and as your business matures. For example, at the beginning you may want to do everything yourself to minimise costs, but we can help you get set up (be it with Excel, or a software package such as Xero), training and any ad-hoc queries you might have. However, you might soon get too busy, so you are unable to do this yourself. It will only take a couple of Companies House or HMRC penalties before it would have been cheaper for us to do this all for you. We can take on as much or as little of this burden for you, to enable you to focus on running your business and prevent it from running you.

We have our own team of book keepers but also collaborate closely with other local book keepers so their clients can have a smooth cycle through their legal, financial and tax obligations.

If you want to know more about how our book keepers can help you, please get in touch with our team today.

What are the benefits of having an accountant?

An accountant shouldn’t be a cost, they should be a value, so if you don’t have an accountant currently, or if you only think of your accountant as a cost, have a think.

Your accountant should be a true business partner for you and your business, so you never feel alone in business and know you can get the support you need, whenever and wherever you are to drive your business forward and achieve your objectives. Therefore the “cost” of their services should be outweighed by the benefits of what they provide.

Yes your accountant will assist you with explaining allowable expenses for your business, preparing your accounts, VAT returns, corporation tax returns and self-assessment returns, but they can do a lot more besides. They should fully understand your business needs and what the plans are to grow your business in the future, and given they do it for a living, they should be well placed to give you the advice you need throughout the year.

They can also free up your time, so you can focus on what you do best and give you the peace of mind that your accounting and tax affairs are up to date.

For more information about how we can help you here, please get in touch with our team today.

What is the difference between an accountant and a book keeper?

Typically a book keeper will ensure an accurate, day-to-day record of all financial transactions of a business, whilst an accountant builds on that information to provide a bigger picture of financial analysis, including an annual summary for tax purposes.

At Black & White Accounting we can provide both book keeping and accountancy services. Some clients prefer to have these services managed under one roof for simplicity and we do this for a lot of clients. However, we also work collaboratively with local book keepers to ensure the process is as seamless as possible for you the client.

Both are well placed to provide business advice, so if your current providers are not doing this and for more information about how we can work with you and potentially your other business partners, please get in touch with our team today.

How much should I be putting by for my tax and National Insurance every month?

A good place to start is to put 20% of your net sales into a separate bank account to ensure you have the money available to pay your tax as it falls due.

If you use you cloud based accounting solutions, such as Xero, this can be used to ensure you are putting enough aside each month.

This is more complicated if you are a Limited Company or Limited Liability Partnership, but the guiding principal is still the same.

For more information on this, or if you would like a bespoke tool or calculation to help you with this, please get in touch with our team today.

Should I register for VAT? What is the VAT threshold?

The current threshold for VAT registration is when your business sales exceed £85,000. There is however several reasons why businesses beneath this threshold may seek to be VAT registered.

There are also several different accounting schemes, including Flat Rate Scheme, Cash Accounting Scheme and the Annual Accounting Scheme.

For more information about the pros and cons of being VAT registered, understanding more about the different schemes and what is best for you and your business, please get in touch with our team today.

How long do I have before I register with HMRC once I start trading?

If you are looking to trade as a sole trader or partnership, the deadline to register is 5th October following the end of the tax year in which you start to trade. For example, if you started trading on 8th August 2016, the deadline would be 5th October 2017. If you fail to do so, you could receive a penalty.

You can register online or over the phone (0300 200 3310); you’ll need your National Insurance number, along with your home and business details.

When you set up a Limited Company, Limited Liability Partnership, Charity, Community Interest Company or other, the entity itself is usually automatically registered with HMRC. However, you as the Director, Partner or Trustee may still be required to register as self-employed with HMRC.

For more information on this and other deadlines throughout the year, please get in touch with our team today.

How easy it is to change accountants?

If your current accountants are not giving you value, then it’s time to re-assess who you are using. You might have used them for twenty years, but if they are not giving you the service you deserve, then we’d love to talk to you about how we can help you; it’s a business decision after all.

Changing accountants is actually very easy. Either drop your current accountant a line to let them know you are moving on or if you would prefer we can contact them first. Either way, they will need your permission to release your records to us as part of the Professional Clearance process.

Whilst this is only a professional courtesy, Professional Clearance is a way for us to get a lot of the key information we need to help you, which will save you and us a lot of time.

For more information on this or anything else about our services and how we can support you, please get in touch with our team today.

If I don't have to have an accountant, why would I pay someone to do it for me?

An accountant shouldn’t be a cost, they should be a value, so if you don’t have an accountant currently, or if you only think of your accountant as a cost, have a think.

Your accountant should be a true business partner for you and your business, so you never feel alone in business and know you can get the support you need, whenever and wherever you are to drive your business forward and achieve your objectives. Therefore the “cost” of their services should be outweighed by the benefits of what they provide.

Yes your accountant will assist you with explaining allowable expenses for your business, preparing your accounts, VAT returns, corporation tax returns and self-assessment, but they can do a lot more besides. They should fully understand your business needs and what the plans are to grow your business in the future, and given they do it for a living, they should be well placed to give you the advice you need throughout the year.

They can also free up your time, so you can focus on what you do best and give you the peace of mind that your accounting and tax affairs are up to date.

For more information about how we can help you here, please get in touch with our team today.

Should my business be a limited company?

Getting your business structure right is one of the most important decisions you will make whilst in business. This will depend on many things, including the size of your business (both now and in the future), the level of risk on your business (is there an inherent risk of potential legal proceedings), the norm in your sector (what do your competitors do, is there a reason for this) and your exit strategy on the business. This is also something that can change over time.

This is a great conversation to have and we would be delighted to talk this through with you so please get in touch with our team today.

What expenses can I claim?

This is one of the questions we get asked the most and one we love discussing with our clients, because there isn’t a simple answer.
The legislation and case law get thicker here every year, but ultimately you can claim any expenses which are incurred ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purpose of your trade. i.e., do you need to incur this particular cost for your business to survive?
Our knowledge of what you can and cannot claim here will not only minimize the risks of HMRC paying you unwanted attention, but could also reduce the tax you pay.

This is a great conversation to have and we would be delighted to talk this through with you so please get in touch with our team today.

I want to close my business, what do I do?

Almost the most important question we ask our clients is ‘What is your exit strategy?’ If you don’t start with the end in mind, you won’t achieve your business objectives. It is never too late or too early to have this conversation.

The worst thing is seeing a business close it’s doors when your legacy could have lived on and you could have got a greater return for your next chapter. It’s not easy, but don’t worry, we will be with you every step of the way.

Whether you are looking to sell, to pass it onto family or open to options, we’d love to talk this through with you so please get in touch with our team today.

Do I need a Business Plan?

Abraham Lincoln once said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” This nicely highlights the importance of planning and a lack of business planning is one of the key reasons why businesses fail.

Every business needs a Business Plan; whether that’s some notes on the back of a napkin, or 300 slide deck, the first step is to have one. The second step is to ensure it is living and breathing and kept up to date as your business evolves.

The way we look at it is if something happened to you today, could you secure an investor or loan without a lot of extra work? If your Business Plan is living and breathing today, the answer would be “yes”.

To make it a “yes”, please get in touch with our team today; whether it be to build one from scratch for you, to build it together, or just review what you already have, we’d love to hear from you.