Making Tax Digital

Your business guide to cloud accounting

Your business guide to cloud accounting

Want to run digital accounts but don’t know where to start? Our guide to cloud accounting explains all the main benefits of running your finances in the cloud.

Cloud accounting is the simple, online way to manage your business finances.

Instead of working from a local accounting application that’s installed on your computer, cloud accounting software lets you log in from your usual web browser, on your laptop or mobile device. It’s fast, efficient and safely backs up all your financial accounts and data in the cloud.

Cloud accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks, FreshBooks and Sage transform the way you work on your numbers (and brings some real digital efficiency to your finances).

You have one online hub for all your financial management, with cloud-based tools for the main bookkeeping, accounting and reporting tasks. Plus your accountant, advisers and finance director can all access your accounts online, making it far easier to collaborate.

How does cloud accounting affect your business?

Switching to cloud accounting is essential if you want to run a successful Most popular accounting platforms are designed to be the centre of your whole business system, with accounting, performance tracking, reporting and other app integrations a big part of the mix.

With a cloud accounting platform at the heart of your business, you can:

  • Easily automate your bookkeeping, record-keeping and bank reconciliation processes
  • Send out electronic invoices to your customers, and get paid faster
  • Track your operational spending and employee expenses
  • Run detailed financial reports and track your key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Access your important financial information anytime, anywhere
  • Integrate with hundreds of other business tools and apps
  • Bring your tax returns into the digital age, ready for Making Tax Digital

How can our firm help you with cloud accounting?

If switching to the cloud sounds like the right move for your business, we’d love to lend a hand.

We’ll help you review the current marketplace for cloud accounting software, decide on the best platform for your business and port your finance data over to the new software. We can also highlight all the most useful app integrations to include in your tech stack.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of cloud accounting, we’ll be happy to explain.

Get in touch to chat and let’s find out how we can help you from here at The Stan Lee for your cloud accounting needs.

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Spreading your tax costs with Time To Pay

Have you been hit with an unexpectedly large tax bill? One way to manage this is to apply for a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC. We’ve got the lowdown on how to do this.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) expects you to pay your taxes on time. But if you’re finding it difficult to pay in full, HMRC can be approached to allow a Time to Pay arrangement.

A Time to Pay arrangement will allow you to pay your debt off in pre-agreed instalments, reducing the impact of a large tax bill – and helping you manage your debt and cashflow.

How does Time to Pay work?

If you need to request a Time to Pay arrangement for self-assessment tax, Employer’s PAYE and VAT, these can often be made online using a ‘self-service’ system.

Where you owe other types of tax, or where the conditions for online applications are not met, you’ll need to contact HMRC to discuss your situation.

  • The easiest (although not always the quickest) way to discuss your Time to Pay request is by telephone to 0300 200 3835.
  • HMRC agents will want to know about all taxes you owe, not just the one(s) where you want to spread payment. They will also ask for details of your income and outgoings, and any savings or assets that may be able to be used to reduce the amount owed.
  • Presuming that you agree to a payment plan with HMRC during the call, they will usually want to set up a Direct Debit straight away.

Making use of the self-serve Time to Pay system

If you don’t have any existing payment plans or debts with HMRC, the ‘self-serve’ system may be more straightforward, provided that the applicable tax returns have already been filed. The conditions and amounts vary depending on the particular tax.

For example:

  • Self-Assessment: You must apply no more than 60 days after the payment deadline and owe no more than £30,000.
  • Employer’s PAYE: You must be within 35 days of the deadline, owe no more than £15,000 and have no outstanding penalties. The maximum period over which the amount due can be spread is six months.
  • VAT: For VAT, you need to apply within 28 days of the due date and owe no more than £20,000. You can’t apply for a Time to Pay arrangement through the self-serve scheme if you use either the cash accounting or annual accounting schemes.

The self-serve option for Time to Pay does make the process easier, but remember that HMRC isn’t obliged to offer you the option of settling your taxes owed via instalments.

If you fail to pay your taxes, HMRC can take recovery action in the County Court, and apply for the taxpayer to be put into liquidation or made bankrupt where appropriate.

Talk to us about making Time to Pay work for you

One of the best ways to avoid getting into difficulties with your tax liabilities is to work more closely with your accountant. As your tax adviser, we’ll produce regular forecasts so that any financial stresses can be foreseen well in advance.

Where unexpected circumstances do arise, putting a suitable payment plan in place with HMRC is the most sensible way to manage this situation. Ignoring your tax problems won’t make them go away and burying your head in the sand can lead to serious penalties and legal action.

Get in touch to talk about Time to Pay and let’s find out how we can help from The Stan Lee.

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HMRC’s VAT registration helpline closed

HMRC’s VAT Registration Helpline has closed. So, how do you get an answer to your VAT application query? We’ve summarised the main ways to contact HMRC’s VAT specialists.

We were dismayed to see that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) shut down their VAT Registration Hotline as of 22 May 2023. This leaves businesses that have a VAT registration query without a direct HMRC team to communicate with.

Don’t worry, though, there are ways for you to get your VAT queries to HMRC, as we’ll see.

Why close the VAT Registration Helpline?

HMRC has a severe backlog of work at present. Applications are taking a long time to process, queries are not being answered and taxpayers are getting understandably frustrated.

Closing down the VAT Registration Helpline is part of HMRC’s ongoing mission to redress these delays. According to a recent email seen by AccountingWEB, closing down the helpline is intended as a way to free up HMRC staff and process more applications.

HMRC is quoted as saying:

“We recognise that performance across our core service lines still needs some improvement. We’re confident that this approach will help improve our customer service levels by allowing our colleagues to prioritise processing of these applications.”

How can you chase up a VAT registration?

With the VAT Registration Helpline now unavailable to you, how do you chase up a registration or get an answer to your VAT-related queries?

HMRC has suggested using their ‘Where’s my reply’ online tool to check on the status of your application. This online tool allows you to chase up an ongoing VAT application, as well as applications for corporation tax, employers PAYE and other taxes and government subsidies.

The length of time you wait for a response to your query will vary, but HMRC is suggesting that responses could take up to 40 working days. Not exactly an instant response!

How can you ask general VAT questions?

HMRC does have a facility for general VAT-related queries, but to get the best from these options, it’s sensible to have a VAT online account that’s already set up for your business.

To contact HMRC re a VAT query:

  • Log in to your VAT online account. Your online account lets you:
    • view your payments and outstanding liabilities
    • submit your VAT return and view previous returns
    • get a duplicate VAT registration certificate
  • Talk to HMRC’s Digital Assistant. HMRC has a digital chatbot that can answer basic questions and FAQs relating to your VAT affairs.
  • Call HMRC on the phone. Call the HMRC team on 0300 200 3700 (or +44 2920 501 261 if you’re outside the UK). HMRC advises that you should only phone them if the query is urgent. You’ll need to have your postcode, Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme (FHDDS) number and VAT registration number if you need to call. HMRC’s phone line opening hours are:
    • Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
    • Closed weekends and bank holidays
  • Use the HMRC app. HMRC’s official mobile app allows you to look up general information and basic FAQs etc, but won’t be able to answer specific questions.

Talk to us about your VAT queries

As your tax agent at The Stan Lee, we can answer most of your general VAT queries for you. We can also act on your behalf and contact HMRC to request more specific information.

If you’ve got a VAT-related question or an application query, just drop us a line and we’ll do our best to get you an answer as quickly as possible.

Get in touch to ask your VAT questions.

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3 Cloud Accounting Tips To Save Your Business Time And Money

3 Cloud Accounting Tips To Save Your Business Time And Money

Keeping on top of your accounts is a big part of running a successful and profitable business. But you don’t want to spend ALL your time dealing with accounting tasks, especially when that time could be spent building customer relationships, or developing new products etc.

So, how do you keep your finances in check, while also spending less time and money on your accounts?

  1. Bringing your accounting into the digital age

Switching to cloud accounting can be a revolutionary step for many business owners, especially when you look at the ways you can streamline and automate the basic accounting tasks. By using accounting platforms like Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB or Sage, you get all the basics of small business financial management, but with the benefits of smart automation.

With most modern cloud accounting software, you can:

  • Automate the scanning and digitisation of your expenses and receipts
  • Automatically reconcile your bank transactions with your invoices and bills
  • Connect your accounts to other time-saving apps for mileage claims or staff expenses.
  1. Getting paid faster and with less admin

With a cloud accounting platform driving your business, you also make it easier to send out e-invoices and get paid faster and more effectively. Improving your payment times and cash collection can make a huge difference to your cashflow position, and also sets the right expectations with your customers – making it clear that you require to be made on time.

Using the invoicing function in your business software, you can:

  • Quickly send out electronic invoices as soon as a job is completed
  • Set up automated invoices to be sent out at pre-agreed points in a project
  • Include payment buttons on your invoice, so customers can pay via PayPal or card
  • Remove the barriers to payment and speed up payment times.
  1. Getting a better overview of your important numbers

Using cloud accounting isn’t just about automating the time-consuming financial admin tasks. By recording and tracking all the financial and non-financial data flowing through your system, your accounting platform can actually provide you with a goldmine of useful real-time information.

With cloud accounting providing your reporting, you can

  • Access totally up-to-date real-time information, to improve your decision-making
  • Track your performance against targets to see how well the business is performing
  • Monitor spending and budgets to keep your cashflow under control
  • Understand your return on investment when it comes to sales and marketing activity 
  • See how promotion has driven sales but reduced your profit, due to discounting.

Talk to us about setting up a more productive kind of accounting

If you want complete control of your finances and business decision-making, updating your accounting software and processes will be key to achieving that goal.

We can help you decide which accounting software is most suited to your business, and how to maximise the benefits you get from automation and real-time data.

Get in touch to talk through updating your accounting and you can request us here fee quote.

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How to Use Digital Bookkeeping with Us at The Stan Lee?

How to Use Digital Bookkeeping with Us at The Stan Lee?

Digital Bookkeeping

In the emerging technology, digital bookkeeping is a must for all of us as accountants and every entrepreneur too here in the UK. As accountants, our challenges are to adopt with the digital accounting and help the clients as well. In this blog, you will read how we can support on your digital bookkeeping needs for your business venture.   


What is Digital Bookkeeping?

Digital bookkeeping is an electronic format (instead of using the traditional method of papers) where all accounting transactions including outgoings, incomings, VAT, cash flow and more are conducted in an electronic environment.

Why You Need to Consider Digital Bookkeeping?

From April 2022, all VAT registered businesses are subject to the Making Tax Digital (MTD) compliance regardless of their turnover, unless exempted. However, you have a range of benefits as follows in using digital bookkeeping:

  • Smooth and efficient document processing that you have access at anytime from anywhere
  • You have get rid of the paper mountain and no need to prepare folders for the quarter ending
  • Less space required for filling cabinet and can utilise that space for other purpose
  • More accurate bookkeeping rather than manual and always clear overview
How We can Help on Your Digital Bookkeeping?

We use most common accountancy software including; IRIS, Sage and Xero for your accountancy, taxation and business support needs. Here is the brief note how you can maintain your digital bookkeeping with us using Xero software. Please note that we are Xero certified advisors.

In our example, Xero is the main software for digital bookkeeping purpose whether you are VAT registered business or not. Once having Xero software, it means that you are benefited from:

  • Automatic “bank feed” connection and no hassle for manual entry
  • Create your invoice in few clicks and then ready to send digitally to your clients
  • Entry bills to pay and reconcile with the bank
  • Maintain expense claims including mileage records and then reimbursed by authorised person
  • Integrate with POS (point of sale) and no hassle for manual sales record
  • Facility to add payment service software including stripe, PayPal and so on
  • Multiple currency and hence no hassle for currency rate and adjustment for gains or loss
  • Connecting with other a range of app including Hubdoc

Hubdoc is a software that extracts key information from your receipts, invoices and bills. No more hassle for data entry and no more filing, simply take the photo of receipts using mobile app or upload documents from your computer. You may not have additional costs for using Hubdoc with Xero.

You may have trouble in maintaining your petty cash and to resolve this, why not consider Pleo. Please note that we are Pleo partner and you may be eligible for discounts as our clients. You will be benefited from: spending solution (seamless expense management), smart company cards for employees and reimbursements with invoices once using Pleo software.

 Here to Help on Your Digital Bookkeeping?

At The Stan Lee, we can confidently help on your Digital Bookkeeping affairs with competitive and reasonable fees. For further information, please get in touch with one of the friendly team and let’s find out how we can help on your digital bookkeeping needs.

We set up the digital bookkeeping for our client at no additional fees

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Extension of Making Tax Digital for Income Tax (Individuals)

Extension of Making Tax Digital for Income Tax (Individuals)

On 19 December 2022, the government announced the extension of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax (individuals) from April 2024 to April 2026 (except general partnerships). In this article, a brief of the changes in MTD for ITSA will be explained.

MTD for ITSA Extension

  • From April 2026, you must meet the MTD compliance if you have more than £50,000 qualifying income.
  • From April 2027, if your qualifying income is more than £30,000, you must comply with MTD requirements.

The qualifying income refers to your gross self-employment income or rental property income or both in together. Gross income means the total income before the deduction of expenses.

Example 1: You have gross income of £30,000 from self-employed and property rental income of £25,000, so the total income is £55,000. Here, you are subject to MTD for ITSA from April 2026 as having total qualifying income more than £55,000 from both self-employed and property rental.  

MTD for Jointly Owned Property:

You may have property rental income from jointly owned property and in this case, your share of the property income will count as your qualifying income rather than the total income of the jointly owned property.

Example 2: You have jointly owned property income of £50,000 (equal share to you and your partner, £25,000 each). You also don’t have any income from self-employed. Here, you are not subject to MTD for ITSA from April 2027 as having less than £30,000 income per individual.

Other matters of MTD for ITSA:

  • You may use MTD for ITSA in voluntary even if your income is less than the qualifying income.
  • Your residency and domicile status will effect on your qualifying earning. For instance, you are UK resident and domicile and having self-employed income in the UK, but property rental income from overseas. Here, your overseas property rental income will count as qualifying income along with your self-employed income here in the UK. However, if you are domiciled outside of the UK then only your UK self-employed and property rental income will count as qualifying income.
  • You may apply for exemption from MTD for ITSA if you can not use software due to your age, disability, location or other unavailable circumstances.
  • However, you can not sign up for MTD in case of you are trustee, personal representative of someone who has died, Lloyd’s member and non-resident company.

Here to Help on Your MTD for ITSA?

At The Stan Lee, we have MTD compatible software for you and pleased to support confidently. For further information and about your MTD for ITSA, please get in touch with one of the friendly team and let’s find out how we can help you.

Disclaimer: The above information is just as a general information that might help you. However, we highly recommend having expert advice suited for your circumstances. The Stan Lee and its author are not liable if you rely on this and have any consequences.

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