Setting up Self Employed

Becoming self employed is a dream for many people but there are a few things you need to know before you embark on the exciting journey of being your own boss.

Business Structure

You may need to think about the business structure that you need. Thousands of people begin as sole traders and this does suit most start-up businesses but it may be worth asking advice from a trusted business advisor to make sure that this is the best structure for your business. If you are going into business with one or more other people you can set up a partnership or a limited liability company, both of which come with pros and cons of their own.

Regardless of the of business structure you choose you will need to register yourself as being in business. It may be as simple as filling in an online form with HMRC or could be slightly more complex depending on your requirements. If you are in any doubt at all you need to speak to someone who can impartially advise you about the process.

Legal Responsibilities

You must check if there are legal requirements for your type of business. Do you need a licence or a permit or some type of insurance? Being self employed is not just a case of beginning trading!


Where will you work? Can you run your business from home or do you need an office or storage space? If you’re to be manufacturing goods do you need a factory or processing plant? If you rent or buy a business property you will need to register for and pay business rates, although you may qualify for a discount.


Will your business just be you or will you need others to help you? If you’re a cottage industry, chances are you will manage on your own, at least to begin with. But if you’re manufacturing or offering certain types of service you may well need staff. If you employee those staff, then you must offer them a workplace pension and pay employers national insurance contributions on their behalf. A payroll will need to be run so that your staff are paid correctly and on time.


Do you need finance to help you with your business idea? If so you will probably be asked by your bank to write a business plan. We can help with that. You may also need to put money in yourself to fund the business.

Record Keeping

When you run a business, you have a legal requirements to keep records of the financial transactions that your business undertakes. This may be as simple as an invoice book and a pile of purchase receipts or you may need a cashbook (analogue or digital) to log your transactions. Alternatively, you may decide to use an online software provider. As the HMRC Making Tax Digital Initiative gathers pace you may find that the latter option is the only one that will work long term.

In conclusion, there are many things that you may have to discuss or decide upon when you start a business. It’s imperative that you get these things right so that you don’t have problems down the line when business has picked up. Any reliable business advisor will be able to help you through the minefield and be there to support you with any decisions you need to make.

It is impossible to provide comprehensive advice on a blog post but we are happy to discuss your business (at no charge!) and give our input on how to set up your dream.

Let us help you to succeed.




Are you planning on using QuickBooks in your business?

For a small business owner trying to choose a piece of accountancy software can be a minefield of Googling, mixed reviews, baffling terminology and an array of information that cannot be easily understood, analysed or assessed.

Most accountancy practices and bookkeepers will have their favoured software but how do you know which suits your particular business?

The first thing to consider is that you will need, in the not too distant future, to comply with the HMRC MTD (Making Tax Digital) requirements. Although in some ways these are not yet totally clear, some aspects are obvious and include accurate record keeping and storage of data in a way that can be easily shown to HMRC, your accountant, bookkeeper, bank or other interested party.

Returns will be submitted quarterly rather than annually and so it will be ever more important to be in control of the information about your business.

We recommend the use of a cloud based software provider as it allows access to you as the business owner from anywhere with internet at any time but also makes the transfer of information from you to your clients, and you to your bookkeeper or accountant, seamless and quick.

QuickBooks is an internationally recognised product which fully complies with HMRC requirements, both now and also when MTD is fully implemented. We are able to provide training in all aspects of QuickBooks so that you can fully utilise all of its features. There are also many add-ons that work with QuickBooks to make the running of your business easier.

Contact us for more information about software choices and QuickBooks.

Paying HMRC by personal credit card

Paying HMRC by personal credit card

From 13 January 2018 HMRC will no longer be accepting payments made from personal credit cards.

HMRC is only allowed to accept credit card payments on the basis that there is no cost to the public purse, and the EU Payment Services Directive 2, which comes into effect on this date, prohibits merchants (including HMRC) from recharging associated fees back to customers.

Corporate, business and commercial credit cards are not affected by this change and HMRC will continue to accept personal and commercial debit cards.

Customers will continue to have alternative payment options including:

Direct Debt
Faster Payment
Debit Card

Details of ways to pay self assessment can be found on GOV.UK

Payment terms

How would you feel if your employer told you they were going to pay your salary in 4 months’ time instead? For the next 3 months, no wage packet. Would you be unable to pay your mortgage? Looking at a bleak Christmas? Feeling powerless? Trust shattered?
Welcome to the world of a supplier being told to accept ‘120 days credit terms’. In a digital world where it is possible to pay within days, more big companies are forcing suppliers into waiting 4 months to get paid.
Let’s be clear. It’s bullying. And theft. They are taking goods and services, and withholding payment. They are stealing the interest the companies should have earned in those extra 3 months and using it to line their own pockets.
For small businesses, often with their own suppliers to pay, and a wage bill, this can be disastrous.
And we’re not talking about the Ryanairs and Sports Directs of this world. These are large global companies with huge CSR programmes claiming “fairness”, “community action” and “respect”, and probably running branded “entrepreneurship” programmes.
This is truly unethical and shameful, even if legal.
If this is your company, please raise a voice against it. Just ask the question…. “Why do we want to bully and steal from the suppliers who contribute to our success?”

From Liz Tinlin via LinkedIn

What are claimable expenses?

What are claimable expenses?

This is a question we hear A LOT! What are claimable expenses? What can I claim back?

Self employed people can deduct certain claimable expenses from their turnover to reduce the amount of profit they make, and therefore the amount of tax they have to pay.

However there is always confusion around the expenses.

Ultimately the test that HMRC use is to ask if the expense is “wholly and exclusively” for the purpose of running the business.

Example: A beauty therapist can claim for beauty products she uses e.g. face creams. A bookkeeper cannot claim for face creams as they have no relation to her work.

The type of business is important when asking this question. Obviously the types of expenses that a retail shop will have are wildly different to those that a hairdresser will have. There is therefore no definitive list of claimable expenses as they differ so much between businesses.

As a bookkeeper I have a car that I use to go to clients premises and work. However I also use that same car to take my children to school and to go shopping. I use the car for both private and business use. I claim the business use against income. The same applies to other equipment that has a shared use between your private and business lives.

I have come across people in the past who believed that because they work from home they could have claimable expenses of their mortgage, council tax etc. Whilst there is an element of this that is claimable, obviously you also use your house to live in, not just work in.

HMRC introduced Simplified Expenses to solve this problem. This is a way of applying a flat rate to home premises that are used for work, or vehicles with shared use. More information can be found on this topic here.

There is also some useful guidance for claimable expenses here.

We would love to talk in more detail about your business and the expenses that you can claim. Please just contact us


Making Tax Digital – HMRC Initiative

What is “Making Tax Digital”?

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is a government initiative to modernise HMRC’s tax system. The aim is to make the whole process of administrating tax simpler and more efficient. All of your tax information will be in one place (your digital account) and you will be able to pay tax based on your business activity during the year. You can upload and update your tax account in real time.

Will it affect me?

If you own a business, you are self-employed and you pay income tax, national insurance, VAT
or corporation tax then you will be affected. This means you will need to keep track of your tax affairs digitally using MTD compatible software. You will need to update HMRC at least quarterly via your digital tax account. Eventually this will abolish the annual tax return. This will be the law and there will be penalties for non-compliance.

What do I have to do?

You will need to open and log into your digital account. Everyone will be allocated one through the current Government Gateway. Then you will need to ensure your accounting software can update this account at least quarterly. For most businesses, this means a move away from desktop and onto Cloud based accounting software. You will use digital (Cloud) software to maintain your business records and to provide updates of information to HMRC. You will be prompted to send summary updates directly to HMRC – quarterly updates will need to be submitted within a month of quarter end, and an end of year activity report will be due within nine months of the end of the accounting year.

As your accountant and tax agent, we can advise you on the software you will need and how to comply with the new quarterly reporting requirements.

When is all this happening?

MTD starts with businesses above the VAT threshold limits (currently £85,000) for accounting periods commencing on or after 6 April 2019. Those affected will have to keep digital records for VAT purposes. By 2020 it is most likely all other businesses will have to comply.

What’s next?

We will be contacting all of our clients in 2017 to prepare you and get you ready for Digital Tax well in advance. If you want to discuss how this affects you and your business please contact us.

Summer holidays have come and gone…

As a parent of a school age child it is refreshing to be back into the routine of the school term. Thoughts begin to turn to self assessment tax returns if you’re self employed, along with thoughts of booking next year’s summer holiday.

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly how much tax you have to pay to HMRC? Then you can make a decision about the long anticipated summer vacation? If you use a bookkeeper to calculate and submit your tax return they will be forever grateful to receive your information in the autumn when there is no panic to get the data submitted. Bookkeepers loathe January! They hate the influx of late clients needing self assessment returns done in a rush. We also hate having to work over Christmas. Remember, your bookkeeper is human too 🙂

In addition, doesn’t it make you feel a rather smug sense of self satisfaction when you know that your return is submitted, the tax is paid and when everyone else is panicking in January you can sit back and relax, whilst anticipating your summer break?

A bookkeeper will ensure that you claim all applicable expenses and that your income is declared correctly. This means less likelihood of an HMRC audit. However if an audit is carried out there is far less chance of HMRC finding any discrepancies. Contact us today to see how we can help you.