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The end of Tax Returns and start of ‘Digital Tax Accounts’

Digital Tax Account

In last months Budget, the Chancellor George Osborne announced that during a 5 year period starting in 2016 we will see the end of tax returns and the introduction of Digital Tax Accounts.

According to Citywire

By the end of 2016, five million small businesses and the first 10 million individuals would use the new ‘digital tax account’.

‘Millions of individuals will have the information the Revenue needs automatically uploaded into new digital accounts,’ said Osborne. ‘Tax really doesn’t have to be taxing, and this spells the death of the annual tax return.’

Around 85% of those who complete self-assessment forms already do them online. But HMRC said the new accounts, unlike the current system, would be pre-populated with data HMRC already holds and that from third parties.

Those who pay tax using the pay-as-you-earn system will have their income tax, national insurance contributions and pension position already shown in their accounts, alongside any interest from banks and building societies.

HMRC said that small businesses using the system should also be able to use accounting software to feed data straight into their account.

In order for this to work, small businesses will need to keep their accounts up to date.

The top 5 common accounting problems accountants deal with are:
1. Not doing any accounts – the shoe box approach to business
This is the most common mistake, book keeping is best done as you go along, putting all the paperwork in a shoe box or carrier bag is a really bad idea as you have no idea how your business is performing.
2. Not keeping receipts. Often small business miss out on claiming all their expenses because they fail to keep receipts and lose track of their spending
3. Not reconciling. Reconciling your bank statements to your cash book is vital to make sure that all of your income and expenses have been recorded in your accounts.
4. Using the wrong accounting system. For some businesses a manual cash book and records are fine but for many accounting software such as Debitoor will be needed to keep track of debtors, creditors and VAT. Make sure you understand your accounting system and operate it correctly.
5. Mixing business and personal expenses. Some sole traders even mix up business and personal bank accounts and in extreme cases don’t even have a business bank account. This can cause errors and often means that a sole trader will either claim to many expenses or to few.

Will small businesses be able to overcome these problems or will they end up in a tax mess with Digital Tax Accounts?

steve@bicknells.net

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