7 Signs It's Time to Outsource Your Financial Operations

Navigating the complexities of financial management is a pivotal challenge for growing businesses. Recognising when to leverage external expertise can transform potential obstacles into opportunities for success.

As small businesses scale, the intricate demands of financial operations—from bookkeeping to strategic planning—can become overwhelming. This is where the strategic decision to outsource financial operations comes into play, offering not just relief from daily accounting tasks but also access to expert insights and strategic guidance.

Whether you choose to outsource selectively for specific needs or embrace a total solution for your financial operations, understanding how to effectively integrate external financial expertise is crucial for sustainable growth and long-term success.

Each of the following seven sections explores a key aspect of financial operations outsourcing, highlighting how it can be a game-changer for growing businesses.

Recognising the Need for Change: The Bookkeeping Challenge

The Overwhelming World of Bookkeeping

For many small business owners, bookkeeping starts as a manageable part of the business, often seen as a cost-saving DIY task. However, as the business grows, so does the complexity of its financial transactions. Suddenly, you’re not just recording sales and expenses; you’re managing payroll, tracking inventory, handling VAT returns, and more. The system that once seemed adequate becomes a source of constant catch-up, where mistakes are easy to make and hard to find.

  • Detail Overload: Initially, managing a few transactions can be straightforward, but as operations expand, the volume and complexity of financial data can become overwhelming. This isn’t just about the time it takes but the attention to detail required, which can detract from other critical business activities.
  • Compliance and Deadlines: With growth comes greater responsibility. VAT, payroll taxes, and other financial regulations require timely and accurate reporting. Missed deadlines or incorrect filings can lead to penalties, adding unnecessary costs and stress.
  • The Impact on Decision-Making: Accurate bookkeeping is the foundation of informed decision-making. Without up-to-date financial records, it’s challenging to assess your business’s financial health, plan for the future, or identify areas for improvement. This lack of clarity can hinder your ability to make strategic decisions, affecting your business’s growth and profitability.

The Realisation Moment

The point of realisation often comes in moments of stress or missed opportunities. Perhaps it’s the late nights spent trying to reconcile accounts, the frustration of dealing with tax filings, or the recognition that you’re making decisions based on outdated or incomplete financial information.

  • Personal Anecdotes: Consider the business owner who missed a significant investment opportunity because they couldn’t provide up-to-date financial statements. Or the one who faced a hefty fine for a missed VAT payment, not due to a lack of funds but because of a bookkeeping oversight.
  • The Cost-Benefit Analysis: At this juncture, it’s crucial to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Consider the time and energy spent on bookkeeping versus the potential benefits of outsourcing—focusing on core business activities, accessing expertise, and reducing the risk of errors and compliance issues.

Exploring Outsourcing as a Solution

Deciding to outsource bookkeeping is not about admitting defeat; it’s about recognising the value of your time and the importance of financial expertise. Outsourcing to a professional can transform your financial management from a source of stress to a strategic asset.

  • What Outsourcing Offers: An expert bookkeeper can provide more than just accurate records; they can offer insights into your financial data, help streamline your processes, and ensure compliance with the latest regulations. This allows you to focus on growth, secure in the knowledge that your financial operations are in capable hands.
  • Selecting the Right Partner: The key to successful outsourcing is finding a partner who understands your business and its industry. Look for providers with a track record of working with businesses like yours, and who can offer scalable solutions that grow with you.


Recognising the need to outsource bookkeeping is a pivotal moment for many small business owners. It marks a transition from spreading oneself too thin to focusing on strategic growth. By understanding the signs—such as the overwhelming complexity of financial transactions, compliance challenges, and the impact on decision-making—you can make an informed decision about outsourcing. This step not only alleviates the burden of day-to-day financial management but also positions your business for future success, with the support of financial expertise tailored to your needs.

2. Unravelling the Complexity of Financial Reporting

Building on the foundation of acknowledging when to seek external help with bookkeeping, the next crucial step is understanding the transformative potential of outsourcing your entire financial reporting process. This section delves into the complexities and strategic advantages of outsourcing financial reporting, offering a nuanced exploration tailored for small business owners.

Financial reporting is not just a statutory obligation; it’s a window into the health and performance of your business. However, for many small business owners, the process of generating, analysing, and utilising financial reports can feel like navigating a labyrinth.

Beyond the Basics: The Challenge of In-depth Financial Analysis

  • The Intricacies of Financial Data: At first glance, financial reports might seem straightforward. Yet, the real value lies in deep analysis—understanding what the numbers say about your business’s past performance, current position, and future prospects. This requires a level of expertise that goes beyond basic bookkeeping, encompassing financial analysis, forecasting, and strategic planning.
  • Customisation and Interpretation: Each business is unique, with specific needs and goals. Off-the-shelf financial reports often fall short of providing the insights necessary for informed decision-making. Tailoring reports to highlight relevant metrics and interpreting the data in the context of your business can uncover valuable insights, from identifying cost-saving opportunities to forecasting cash flow challenges.

The Strategic Value of Outsourcing Financial Reporting

Recognising the limitations of in-house capabilities is a pivotal step. Outsourcing financial reporting isn’t merely about delegating tasks; it’s about enhancing the strategic value of financial information.

  • Access to Expertise: Outsourced finance professionals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, offering more than just compliance. They can provide strategic advice, help set financial goals, and offer insights on performance improvement.
  • Technology and Tools: Many outsourcing firms utilise advanced software and analytical tools that might be cost-prohibitive for a small business. These tools can provide deeper insights and more sophisticated forecasts than traditional methods.

Making the Shift: Practical Considerations and Benefits

The decision to outsource financial reporting marks a significant shift towards strategic financial management. It’s a move that can free up valuable time, reduce the risk of errors, and provide a level of insight that supports informed decision-making.

  • The Transition Process: Moving from in-house to outsourced financial reporting is a process that requires careful planning. It involves selecting the right partner, setting clear objectives, and establishing effective communication channels to ensure that the reports you receive align with your business needs.
  • Real-Life Success Stories: Consider the small business that, after outsourcing its financial reporting, identified unnecessary expenses that were hampering profitability. Or the start-up that leveraged outsourced financial insights to pivot its strategy, leading to increased market share.


The complexity and importance of financial reporting in today’s business environment cannot be understated. For small business owners, the challenge often lies in balancing the need for detailed financial analysis with the demands of day-to-day operations. Outsourcing financial reporting offers a solution that goes beyond mere compliance, providing strategic insights, access to expertise, and advanced analytical tools. By embracing outsourcing as a strategic decision, small businesses can not only navigate the complexities of financial management but also unlock new opportunities for growth and efficiency. This strategic pivot allows owners to focus on their core strengths, driving their business forward with the confidence that their financial reporting is in expert hands.

3. Navigating the Regulatory Maze: A Strategic Approach

Diving into the complexities of navigating financial regulations, this section explores the formidable challenges small business owners face and the strategic benefits of outsourcing this aspect of financial management.

The Ever-Changing Landscape of Financial Regulations

Small businesses operate in a dynamic regulatory environment where the rules of the game can change with little notice. This fluid landscape encompasses everything from tax laws and employment regulations to industry-specific compliance standards. For a small business owner, staying abreast of these changes is not just about compliance; it’s about safeguarding your business from penalties, legal issues, and potential financial losses.

  • Complexity and Time Consumption: Understanding and implementing changes in financial regulations can be a daunting task, consuming time that could otherwise be spent on business development. Whether it’s tax codes, GDPR requirements, or industry-specific guidelines, each has its own set of complexities.
  • Risk of Non-Compliance: The consequences of non-compliance can be severe, ranging from fines and sanctions to reputational damage. For small businesses, these risks can be disproportionately damaging, making compliance a non-negotiable aspect of business operations.

The Real-World Implications

Consider the case of a small online retailer grappling with the intricacies of VAT MOSS regulations or a startup navigating employment laws for their first hires. These scenarios highlight not just the complexity of regulations but the potential impact on business operations.

  • Case Studies: Reflect on the experiences of businesses that have faced compliance challenges, such as a cafe that underestimated the implications of allergen labelling regulations, leading to costly legal ramifications. Or a tech startup that failed to comply with data protection laws, resulting in fines and lost customer trust.
  • Proactive Versus Reactive Management: The difference between proactive and reactive compliance can define a business’s success. Proactive management involves staying ahead of regulatory changes and understanding their implications, whereas reactive management often results in hurried, last-minute adjustments that can lead to mistakes and oversights.

Embracing Outsourcing for Compliance Confidence

Outsourcing financial operations, particularly compliance and regulatory oversight, offers a solution that extends beyond mere convenience. It’s about accessing specialised expertise and ensuring that your business not only meets current regulations but is also prepared for future changes.

  • Expertise on Demand: Outsourcing partners specialise in the intricacies of financial regulations and are equipped to navigate the complexities on your behalf. This means less time spent deciphering new laws and more time focusing on strategic business activities.
  • A Strategic Safety Net: With experts overseeing your compliance, your business has a safety net against the risks of non-compliance. This proactive approach can prevent costly mistakes, safeguard your reputation, and provide peace of mind.

Choosing the Right Outsourcing Partner

Finding an outsourcing partner that aligns with your business’s needs and values is crucial. Look for firms with a proven track record in your industry and a proactive approach to regulatory changes. They should not only ensure compliance but also offer strategic advice on how to leverage regulatory changes for business advantage.

  • Assessment and Customisation: A good outsourcing firm will assess your specific needs and tailor their services accordingly. They should understand your business model, the regulatory landscape of your industry, and the unique challenges you face.
  • Ongoing Support and Education: Choose a partner who commits to ongoing support and education, keeping you informed about regulatory changes and their implications for your business. This relationship should empower you, offering clarity and confidence in your compliance strategies.


The challenge of staying compliant in a complex regulatory environment can divert valuable resources and focus away from core business goals. By outsourcing financial operations related to compliance and regulatory issues, small businesses can secure expert guidance and support, ensuring that they not only meet current standards but are also well-prepared for future changes. This strategic partnership can transform regulatory compliance from a daunting obligation into a competitive advantage, enabling business owners to focus on growth and innovation with confidence.

4. The Strategic Value of a Finance Director

The decision to outsource the finance director function represents a pivotal moment for small businesses at the cusp of significant growth. It’s about bringing on board senior financial expertise without the full-time expense, a strategic move that can dramatically enhance decision-making, financial planning, and overall business strategy.

Beyond Bookkeeping: The Role of Strategic Financial Management

As businesses grow, the financial ecosystem becomes more complex, necessitating a strategic approach to financial management. A finance director offers more than just oversight of accounts; they provide strategic guidance, financial forecasting, and insight into funding opportunities. They are pivotal in steering the company towards profitability and growth, making critical decisions on investments, cost management, and financial planning.

  • Strategic Financial Planning: Crafting long-term financial strategies that align with business goals, navigating funding rounds, and managing investor relations.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating financial risks, ensuring the business remains resilient in the face of economic fluctuations.
  • Operational Efficiency: Streamlining operations for cost-effectiveness and efficiency, enhancing profitability through financial insights.

The Challenge for Small Businesses

For many small businesses, the expertise of a finance director can seem like a luxury beyond reach. The cost of employing a full-time CFO or finance director can be prohibitive, leaving many small businesses without the strategic financial guidance they desperately need.

  • Cost vs Benefit: The high salary expectations of a qualified finance director, coupled with additional employee benefits, can strain the limited resources of a small business.
  • Finding the Right Fit: Beyond the financial aspect, finding a finance director with the right mix of expertise and cultural fit for a small business can be challenging.

Outsourcing as a Strategic Solution

Outsourcing the finance director function offers a flexible, cost-effective solution, providing small businesses with access to senior financial expertise on an as-needed basis. This approach allows for strategic financial management without the overheads associated with a full-time position.

  • Access to Top-tier Expertise: Outsourcing firms often have a team of experienced finance professionals, allowing small businesses to benefit from high-level financial expertise at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire.
  • Scalable Support: The level of support can be scaled up or down depending on the business’s needs, providing flexibility and ensuring that businesses only pay for the services they require.
  • Strategic Advantage: With strategic financial guidance, businesses can make informed decisions, identify new opportunities for growth, and navigate the complexities of expansion and scaling with confidence.

Selecting an Outsourcing Partner

Choosing the right outsourcing partner for the finance director function is crucial. Businesses should look for providers with a proven track record of supporting small to medium-sized businesses in their sector, demonstrating not just financial acumen but a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities within the industry.

  • Industry Expertise: A partner with relevant industry experience can offer invaluable insights and tailored advice, understanding the specific challenges and opportunities your business faces.
  • Cultural Alignment: It’s essential that the outsourced finance director aligns with your business’s culture and values, ensuring a seamless extension of your team.
  • Transparent Communication: Clear, transparent communication is vital, ensuring that business owners remain informed and in control of their financial strategy.


Outsourcing the finance director function is a strategic decision that can unlock significant benefits for small businesses. By providing access to senior financial expertise on a flexible, cost-effective basis, businesses can enhance their strategic planning, risk management, and operational efficiency. This approach not only supports business growth and profitability but also allows business owners to focus on their core competencies, secure in the knowledge that their financial strategy is in expert hands. Choosing the right outsourcing partner, one that offers the right mix of expertise, flexibility, and cultural fit, is key to unlocking these benefits and positioning your business for long-term success.

5. Elevating Your Time: The Value of Outsourcing Financial Tasks

When running a small business, the adage “time is money” takes on a literal meaning. Every moment spent on tasks outside your core competencies is a moment not spent on strategic growth. This section delves into the critical decision point of outsourcing financial tasks to reclaim and better utilise your most valuable asset: time.

The High Cost of Split Focus

Small business owners often pride themselves on their multitasking abilities. However, the reality is that human focus and energy are finite resources. The more you spread yourself thin across various tasks like bookkeeping, financial planning, and compliance, the less you’re able to concentrate on your business’s growth, innovation, and customer relationships.

  • Opportunity Costs: Consider the opportunities lost when you’re buried in financial paperwork instead of developing new products, exploring markets, or enhancing customer experiences. These are the growth activities that can set your business apart from competitors.
  • The Impact on Quality: When your attention is divided, the quality of your work in both your primary business area and your financial management can suffer. Mistakes become more likely, and the strategic thinking that drives business success gets sidelined.

A Strategic Pivot to Outsourcing

Deciding to outsource isn’t just about offloading tasks you’d rather not do; it’s about making a strategic choice to invest your time in areas where you can make the most significant impact. By delegating financial operations, you free up mental space and energy to focus on your business’s core mission and long-term strategy.

  • Leveraging Expertise: Outsourced financial professionals do more than just take tasks off your hands; they bring a level of expertise and efficiency born of specialisation. This means not only is the work done, but it’s done well, potentially uncovering financial insights and efficiencies you might have missed.
  • Adaptability and Scalability: As your business grows, your financial operations will need to scale with it. Outsourcing provides a flexible solution that can adapt to your changing needs without the time and expense of hiring and training new staff.

The Qualities of an Effective Outsourcing Partner

Choosing the right partner for outsourcing your financial tasks is about finding a balance between expertise, trust, and synergy with your business vision.

  • Alignment with Business Goals: Look for service providers who take the time to understand your business goals and tailor their services accordingly. This alignment ensures that the outsourced financial tasks directly support your strategic objectives.
  • Transparency and Communication: Effective outsourcing relationships are built on open communication and transparency. Your financial partners should keep you informed and involved, ensuring you retain control and insight into your financial operations.

Embracing Technology for Seamless Integration

Modern technology, particularly cloud-based financial management tools, has made outsourcing more effective than ever. These tools offer real-time data access, seamless communication, and integration with your existing systems, ensuring that outsourcing financial tasks does not mean losing sight of your financial picture.

  • Digital Dashboards and Reporting: Choose partners who utilise technology to provide clear, concise, and customisable reporting. This can help you stay informed and make data-driven decisions without getting bogged down in the details.
  • Security and Data Protection: Ensure that any outsourcing partner prioritises data security and privacy, using technology that protects your sensitive financial information.


For small business owners, the decision to outsource financial tasks is a significant pivot towards prioritising time and focus on what truly matters: the strategic growth and development of their business. By carefully selecting the right outsourcing partner and leveraging technology for integration and transparency, you can enhance your operational efficiency, reduce the risk of errors, and most importantly, free up your time to lead your business towards its most ambitious goals.

Exploring the scenario where a business’s growth begins to stall, and the underlying reasons remain elusive, it’s crucial to delve into how financial data analysis—or the lack thereof—can play a pivotal role. This section will shed light on the significance of harnessing financial insights to diagnose and overcome growth hurdles, and how outsourcing this analytical task can be a game-changer for small businesses.

6. Unveiling Growth Stagnation Through Financial Analysis

The Puzzle of Stagnating Growth

For many small businesses, a period of stagnation can be both perplexing and frustrating. Sales might plateau, customer acquisition may slow down, and despite best efforts, the path to renewed growth becomes unclear. Often, the root causes of this stagnation are hidden within the business’s financial data—awaiting discovery through skilled analysis.

  • Complex Data, Missed Insights: Small businesses generate vast amounts of data that hold the keys to unlocking growth. However, without the tools or expertise to analyse this data effectively, critical insights remain undiscovered. These insights could range from identifying underperforming products or services, to spotting market trends that haven’t been capitalised on.
  • Resource Allocation: Understanding where and how resources are allocated can reveal misalignments with business strategy. For instance, excessive spending in one area might be draining resources from more profitable opportunities, or underinvestment in marketing could be limiting customer reach.

Real-World Examples

Consider the bakery that discovered, through detailed financial analysis, that its catering services were far more profitable than retail sales, leading to a strategic pivot. Or the tech startup that used financial data to identify a high customer churn rate, prompting a successful strategy to improve customer retention.

  • The Impact of Detailed Analysis: These examples highlight how a deep dive into financial data can reveal unexpected opportunities and challenges. By understanding the nuances of their financial landscape, businesses can make informed decisions that reignite growth.
  • Strategic Adjustments: The insights gained from financial analysis often lead to strategic adjustments, whether it’s refining product offerings, reallocating marketing spend, or revamping sales strategies. These adjustments are critical for overcoming stagnation and positioning the business for future success.

The Value of Outsourcing Financial Analysis

Outsourcing financial analysis can be a strategic move for small businesses facing growth stagnation. External experts bring fresh perspectives, advanced analytical tools, and the expertise to uncover the hidden stories within your financial data.

  • Access to Advanced Analytics: Many outsourcing firms utilise sophisticated analytics software and methodologies that small businesses might not have in-house. This technology can identify trends, patterns, and opportunities that would otherwise remain hidden.
  • Objective Insights: An external team can provide an unbiased analysis of your financial data, offering insights that might be overlooked by internal teams too close to the daily operations. This objectivity can be crucial in identifying the true causes of stagnation.

Choosing the Right Outsourcing Partner

Selecting an outsourcing partner for financial analysis involves looking for firms with expertise in your specific industry and a proven track record of helping businesses overcome growth challenges. They should offer not just data analysis, but strategic advice based on those insights.

  • Collaboration and Communication: Effective partners work collaboratively with your team, ensuring that the analysis is aligned with your business goals and that findings are communicated clearly and effectively.
  • Scalable Solutions: As your business evolves, your financial analysis needs will change. Look for a partner who can scale their services to match your growth, offering deeper insights and more sophisticated analysis as your business complexity increases.


When growth stalls, and the path forward is unclear, turning to financial data analysis can reveal the insights needed to chart a new course. However, the expertise required to mine these insights from complex data can be beyond the reach of many small businesses. Outsourcing this function offers a solution, providing access to advanced analytics, objective insights, and strategic guidance. With the right outsourcing partner, small businesses can unlock the full potential of their financial data, overcome stagnation, and set the stage for sustained growth.

7. Conquering Financial Stress for Clarity and Confidence

Addressing the pervasive issue of financial stress among small business owners, this section explores how the uncertainties surrounding financial management can significantly impact one’s well-being and decision-making capabilities. It underscores the transformative potential of outsourcing financial operations to alleviate stress, enhance peace of mind, and foster a more focused approach to business leadership.

The Weight of Financial Uncertainty

For small business owners, financial responsibilities extend far beyond mere numbers on a spreadsheet. They’re a constant source of stress, with worries about cash flow, profitability, and financial sustainability looming large. This stress can cloud judgment, hinder strategic planning, and even affect personal well-being.

  • The Psychological Toll: The mental load of financial uncertainty can be overwhelming, leading to sleepless nights and anxiety. The fear of making a wrong financial decision, or facing an audit unprepared, can paralyse even the most seasoned entrepreneurs.
  • Impact on Business Vision: Under the weight of financial stress, maintaining a clear vision for the future of the business becomes challenging. Strategic decisions may be deferred or avoided altogether, stifling growth and innovation.

Personal Stories of Financial Stress

Consider the case of a small boutique owner who, despite a loyal customer base, found herself constantly worried about cash flow and making payroll. Or a tech startup founder whose fear of financial mismanagement distracted him from pivotal product development decisions.

  • Turning Points: For many, the decision to outsource financial operations comes after a particularly stressful period—perhaps a close call with cash flow or a tax filing that highlighted the gaps in their financial management.
  • The Relief of Professional Support: These business owners often describe the relief and reassurance that come from handing over financial operations to experts. The knowledge that their finances are being professionally managed frees them from the burden of uncertainty and allows them to refocus on their core business goals.

The Strategic Move to Outsource Financial Stress

Outsourcing financial operations can do more than just streamline processes and ensure compliance; it can significantly reduce the psychological burden of financial management. By entrusting these tasks to a dedicated team of professionals, business owners can regain peace of mind and focus on growth.

  • Expertise Equals Peace of Mind: Knowing that experienced professionals are managing your finances—with an understanding of the latest regulations and financial best practices—can alleviate the fear of the unknown. This confidence allows you to make informed decisions with clarity and conviction.
  • Strategic Financial Planning: With less time spent worrying about financial minutiae, you can dedicate more energy to strategic planning and business development. Outsourcing partners can also provide valuable insights and advice, further supporting your business’s growth trajectory.

Selecting the Right Partner for Financial Peace

Finding an outsourcing partner that provides not just services, but peace of mind, requires careful consideration. Look for firms with a strong reputation, a track record of supporting small businesses, and a clear understanding of your industry’s unique challenges.

  • Emphasis on Communication: A good outsourcing firm prioritises transparent and regular communication, keeping you informed and involved in your financial operations without the stress of managing them day-to-day.
  • Cultural Fit: It’s essential to choose a partner whose values align with your own. A firm that understands the pressures of running a small business and is committed to supporting your mental as well as financial health can be a valuable ally.


The decision to outsource financial operations can mark a significant turning point for small business owners burdened by financial stress. It’s not merely a tactical move to improve efficiency but a strategic decision to enhance overall well-being, regain focus, and drive forward with confidence. By entrusting financial tasks to expert hands, you can alleviate the stress that clouds decision-making, secure in the knowledge that your financial operations are optimised for success. This peace of mind is invaluable, freeing you to concentrate on leading your business to new heights with clarity and purpose.

Final thoughts

In the journey of scaling a small business, the strategic decision to outsource financial operations can mark a turning point towards achieving unprecedented growth. It’s an opportunity to transcend the common hurdles that often impede progress, allowing business owners to focus on their core mission while leveraging the expertise of financial professionals. Outsourcing not only optimizes operational efficiency but also unlocks a wealth of insights and strategic guidance, empowering businesses to navigate the complexities of growth with confidence.

transform your financial and accounting operations with TaxAgility

TaxAgility stands as your ideal partner in this transformative journey. By choosing to collaborate with us, you’re not just outsourcing tasks; you’re gaining a team of dedicated experts committed to propelling your business forward. With TaxAgility, you can rest assured that your financial operations are in capable hands, freeing you to concentrate on what you do best—growing your business. Let us help you turn the potential of outsourcing into a tangible advantage for your business, ensuring that as you scale, every financial decision is strategic, informed, and aligned with your vision for success.

How digital enablement can help reduce cyber crime and fraud

While most business owners understand the risks they face from fraud, whether that be threats from cyber attacks or as we will consider here, internally from white collar crime, a surprising number lack the systems and controls to mitigate these threats. TaxAgility Accountants can help you fight these threats through digital enablement.

digital enablement in accounting helps to reduce fraudFor instance, a report by Symantec, the antivirus software firm, highlights that 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses. Why? Because the fraudsters know that these firms haven’t invested in the security, control systems and processes that they ought to have.

In this article, we’ll look at how the process of digitally enabling your firm can help mitigate a lot of the threats facing your business today.

Fraud isn’t just a problem faced by larger firms

When hearing about the problems faced by large firms caused by fraud, often internal fraud, smaller business owners may not relate to them. Often, owners feel that their firms are unlikely to suffer the same issues, the - “we’re a small fish, why would fraudsters bother with us?” syndrome. What these owners fail to realise is that often, external attacks are not perpetrated by people, but by bots. Only when a bot breaks through, do the real fraudsters get involved. Then they’ll take what they can get.

While the technology challenges of doing business in a digital world expose businesses to online attacks, another threat vector that smaller business owners overlook is the people they employ. Owners may feel that their staff are entirely trustworthy. Many may have been with the firm for years. However, when someone’s circumstances change, whether because they run into personal issues or whether they are being coerced by external forces, a trusted person can often cause more long term damage than a direct external threat, especially if such an event leaks out to customers and suppliers. This is one of the main reasons a large number of such fraud incidents go unreported.

Many factors may drive employees to commit fraud within their employment, also known as white collar crime. The most common scenario is when an employee gets into dire personal financial stress. If the employee is able to manipulate or embezzle small amounts of cash unnoticed, and that eases their pain, they may well be tempted into stealing larger sums. When somebody is under significant financial stress, it becomes easier for them to self justify, even telling themselves that what they are doing is justified and that they will pay it back before anyone notices. Unfortunately, that seldom happens, and the employer eventually finds out. Trust is then eroded, not just with the individual concerned, but suspicion may fall on others which will likely upset harmony in the company.

With threat vectors originating both internal and externally, what can a small to medium sized business do, and what do potential solutions have to do with digital enablement.

The role of digital enablement in reducing fraud

Cynics may suggest that it’s because we are communicating more and our company’s operations have become more complex digitally, that being digital is the problem. There is of course an element of truth to this, as new technologies and automated processes can lead to data exposure, as indeed we’ve seen in the news.

Digital transformation though, is unavoidable, largely because it is mainstream and those your firm does business with are in the same boat. Financial systems are almost entirely digital now, your customers and suppliers are transforming. Failure to transform and enable digital service connections will mean that your business will not be able to compete and will suffer severe performance issues.

So, the question therefore centres on how digital enablement technologies not only increase your business’s efficiency, through process automation and service connectivity, but also increase your firm’s resilience to the threats we have seen?

Common types of fraud in the workplace

To see how digitisation of a company’s systems and processes may help with fraud, it is useful to summarise some of the most common types of workplace fraud, these include:

  • Holiday and sick leave manipulation.
  • Theft of cash or equivalent - such as, inventory/equipment/office and raw materials.
  • Falsified overtime, fictitious employees.
  • Unauthorised corporate credit card purchases.
  • Fabricated receipts.
  • Fictitious travel vouchers or purchase orders - i.e. non-existent vendors.
  • Forgery of official document approval .
  • Falsification of transaction details such as false mileage expense claims.
  • Entertainment without a legitimate business purpose.

Most often these examples of fraud can only happen because of lack of management oversight, poor controls, poor ledger and reconciliation reviews and, in busy companies with tight resources, poor separation of duties that allow the same individual to raise and approve purchases, work orders and payments to suppliers - typical in smaller businesses.

How can digital technologies assist in reducing and even preventing fraud?

Most fraud in businesses originates from the lack of oversight and process integration. Fragmented and dissimilar accounting and reporting systems, such as those used to track sales, expenses, payroll, purchases, accounts receivables and accounts payables, provide a wealth of opportunities for an internal fraudster to hide their tracks.

We are continually surprised to find smaller businesses that still track many of these processes using Excel spreadsheets. They’ve used them for years, many are customised using complicated macros developed by external consultants, and so they have been reluctant to drop them. Such systems hide multiple opportunities for manipulation.

The key aspect to reducing fraud in such systems is by reducing manual entry complexities and through automation and oversight. Digital systems and applications target key functional aspects of a business, such as payroll, accounts receivables, sales and purchasing. Such systems provide enhanced visibility, tracking, reporting and authorisation through the creation of process rules, making it very difficult for an employee or external threat to commit fraud without an alarm being generated.

Historically, it’s not been that easy for a manager to gain a detailed look at cash flows without having to deep dive into the back end accounting systems. The reports generated are simple summaries and hide the real issues that may be lurking behind the scenes. Today’s digital applications, though, allow the full detail and authorisation change of transactions to be revealed with a click of a button. Xero, is a great example of this, providing easy to understand management information, but an equally easy audit trail to pursue if things don’t look quite right. There’s no need these days to wade through reams of paper statements looking for problems, cloud based systems can be accessed from your mobile devices wherever you are.

Improving and integrating your business processes through the use of advanced digital applications and services increases transaction transparency and accountability, and improves the overall efficiency of your business. Here are some examples as to how this may work in your business.

1. Decoupling the old and the new

It helps to maintain a dose of realism when tackling process improvement. Smaller businesses are limited by resource and budget. There may be legacy systems, perhaps an inventory system, that can’t be replaced immediately. Identifying the slower systems from those that need to be faster paced, helps a business focus on what can be achieved shorter term. Often the greatest improvements to a business can be realised by improving the customer facing systems and processes. Decoupling these systems from the legacy systems helps, as it compartmentalises potential fraud opportunities and increases the number of your business’s processes that have greater transparency.

2. Automating basic accounting functions.

This is where the latest generation of cloud based services excel. If processes such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, etc. are automated to a high degree, it’s very difficult for them to be tampered with without triggering some form of alert.

3. Streamlining and automating aspects of customer facing systems.

Companies that use e-commerce extensively in their business, perhaps because they operate an online store, understand this very well. Such systems are highly automated and provide a high degree of customer satisfaction. They minimise the need for staff to be involved in the processes of sales, order fulfilment and inventory control. By thoroughly examining your business processes, especially those that are customer facing and choosing to digitise them through the use of sales or customer service portals, again reduces the opportunity for fraud.

4. Use the cloud

Long gone are the days where there’s a need to update critical software on a PC. Of course, such software still exists, but for the most part applications focused on the basic operations of a company, particularly the financial operations, are available in the cloud. This means they are accessed through a secure web browser connection. Using cloud based ERP & CPM systems (for larger businesses) and cloud based accounting software suites, can drastically cut costs and increase the time people have to focus on the core of their business. Not only that, but many cloud based accounting services have a multitude of plugin additions that can be used to customise your operations through functional additions (e.g. payroll, financial controls, enhanced AR, online payment tools), further increasing efficiency. Many are available on an industry related basis too.

Integrated cloud based systems decrease the number of exposed end points often used by fraudsters to gain access to sensitive financial operations, such as through hacking office based systems, exploiting employee based phishing schemes, accounts payable fraud, etc.

5. Analytics and reporting

It’s critical that as a business owner and manager you have fingertip access to data, whether that be raw data or interpreted. There are artificial intelligence applications and advanced analysis tools available that help make sense of your day-to-day operations and in developing forecasts. The enhanced reporting they provide makes it much easier to spot nefarious activities or to trigger internal alarms and restrictions when rules are broken - whether intentional or not.

TaxAgility can assist with your digital transformation process

As an accountancy firm and tax advisers, we’ve had the privilege of working with a huge variety of small and mid-sized businesses. We are familiar with typical systems and processes they employ within the finance and operations departments. We're also very aware of the digital applications and tools available to these companies that are essential to achieving the goals of process improvement, enhanced business efficiency and fraud reduction.

As our client, we can take a look at your operations and make recommendations as to the ways you can achieve these goals. We may have seen or have been involved in similar improvement examples to your business.

Call us today and talk through your needs and we’ll explain how our digital enablement experience can help your business.

Business growth concept

Managing your business finance for success

Every business exists to make money and grow, and one of the essential ways is through good financial management.

Getting your business finance in order through good budgeting, accurate cash flow analysis and effective use of management accounting all share a single objective, which is to improve your business efficiency.

When your business is efficient, it can convert all the available resources to maximise output with ease, thereby delivering better products and/or quality services, increasing sales, improving staff morale, enhancing customer experience, to name but a few. As a result, your business will be in a good financial position to meet its financial obligations and have strong cash surplus to put back into your business for growth.

In this article, our small business management consultants at TaxAgility discuss how we can assist small business owners in London, Richmond and Putney to better manage their business finances for success.

Understanding your business and objectives

A client once commented that he quit his 40-hour a week job to launch a business that required him to work 80-hour a week. Highly driven, he was managing most tasks by himself apart from business finances which he turned to our small business consultants. His reason was simple – the best way to unlock any business potential is to get assistance from experts who can provide honest advice based on financial statements.

Essentially, he was looking for a management consultant who can help him to create accurate budgets and forecasts, giving him data that he needed to make informed decisions. Today, his financial performance is strong, allowing him to have an office with a team of staff. Growth is stable and consistent, adding value to his company and achieving success.

The path to success often starts with a realisation that you may be too overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks and diversions to look at your business objectively. This is why engaging a small business consultant makes sense, though the key is to find one who can take time to understand your business and aspirations.

At TaxAgility, we often kick-start a no-obligation meeting by listening to you first. It is only through listening, understanding, and looking at your business through a clear lens that will allow us to create strategic plans that can meet your financial goals accordingly.

Improving business finance

Every business is unique and consequently, there isn’t a standard recipe which every small business owner should apply when it comes to improving one’s business finance. Areas that we may discuss with you include:

  • Ways to eliminate redundancies
  • Ways to reach your cost and revenue targets
  • Improving return on investment
  • Using historical financial data to do forecasts and budgets
  • How to analyse budgeted versus actual results
  • Reviewing of management accounting
  • Reviewing of credit control and cash flow
  • Analysis of key trends in your business
  • Analysis of risk management

Key benefits of improved business finance

Regardless your areas of focus, our small business consultants always strive to deliver three key benefits to your business and they are:

1. Financial control

Knowing how to make money doesn’t necessarily mean knowing how to best manage the money you earn. Managing money requires disciplines and conscious choices. Take cash flow for example, not many small business owners have time to monitor the amount of cash the business has in the bank or check which customers have paid you on time. Yet when you need to make a purchase, you may not think twice. In this instance, our small business consultants help to reign in control by providing cash flow forecasts that can guide your decisions.

2. Informed decisions will spur growth

A series of good decisions equate to success. If your decisions are data-centric, they will create a positive impact on your business finances quickly, which will further strengthen your financial position. Here is an example – many entrepreneurs believe that borrowing is good, but borrowing without knowing your ability to pay it back is far from good and will quickly ruin your business reputation. Borrowing to spur growth, for example, is only good if you have a repairmen plan in advance, as well as knowing where else you can cut expenses and save.

3. Set, measure, optimise

At TaxAgility, we believe in setting KPIs and measuring performances that help your business to achieve its goals. Financial numbers from every week, every month, every quarter, every year should be tracked and measured. It is worth bearing in mind that even the best plan may lead to occasional bumps along the way, which is why optimisation is essential. Having our small business management consultants on hand to guide you can make all the difference.

Optimising business processes

While not the specific domain of TaxAgility, it is an essential part of improving your business's financial standing and something we strive to help our clients understand. Business owners and operators should routinely review their operations to ensure they are working at peak efficiency. A key consideration is whether some processes may be better served if they were outsourced or handled in a different manner. Consider the following scenarios:

1. Company bookkeeping and accounts.

Many small firms start out doing their own bookkeeping and accounts as a way to save money, not surprisingly. However, many continue to do so even after they have grown substantially, employing several staff to handle the multiple aspects of a company's financial operations. While this may make sense to a large firm, it can be come an expensive proposition for an SME. With the advent of cloud based accounting and outsourced accounting, it can make more sense to off load these functions to an external accounting firm. These firms have optimised around offering dedicated accounting support to small businesses. Cloud accounting tools such as Xero, enable company management to keep a firm grasp on financial matters, as the tools give immediate access to the companies financial data 24 x 7.

2. Financial management

There's been a trend in recent times to not only outsource the accounting function, but also, to outsource the financial management and oversight of a company too. There comes a point in a company's growth when the firm should really consider the appointment of a financial director or a CFO. This can be a big step to take and, of course, such positions are not cheap to fill. This is a function that can make sense to outsource for some companies. Alternatively, they can appoint an interim CFO, one that doesn't work full-time and is not an actual employee. There are obvious cost efficiencies to doing this, also some risks to consider too.

3. Specialist staff.

It can obviously make sense to keep certain specialists you depend upon on your payroll full-time. After all, they may hold the keys to your success within the skills they bring and you'll ant to protect that. However, businesses in search of efficiency, will want to look closely at this. Many of the more advanced skills, particularly in the creative and manufacturing sectors could effectively be outsourced, so long as the right levels of security and IP protection are put in place. Also, diversification of your base source of the key skills you need will allow you to develop resilience to change, both in skills required and protecting the business against the whims of specific individuals. Being able to draw upon a greater source of skills could also increase your competitiveness.

4.Employee base.

Recent global turmoil has been forced businesses to reconsider the basis upon which the employ staff. In times before the pandemic of 2020, employers kept pretty much to a straight forward 37 hour 9 to 5 type of working arrangement, particularly where more office based staff are concerned. Post pandemic though, things are markedly different. Power has shifted and employees now demand greater freedom to work from home (or wherever they consider home to be). Such demands prior to the pandemic were often inconceivable to some employers. However, thought through wisely and putting long standing work practice prejudices aside, such flexibility could also work in favour of the employer. In a lot of instances, employers could see this as an opportunity to restructure how they employ people and they type of employment they need. for instance, not having people in the office regularly not only saves costs but also allows the potential to employe people on a freelance basis, offering greater cost saving opportunities through more optimised processes - i.e. only employing somebody when they are actually needed.

TaxAgility can help to improve your business finance

At TaxAgility, we understand that small business owners have limited resources. Our aim is to help you transform the limited resources available to you into success by focusing on your business finances.

We believe in growing together with our clients – when you grow, we grow too. This is why our dedicated small business management consultants work cohesively with you to help build your business and take it to the next level. We use financial numbers and data to recommend changes, mitigate risk and improve profitability.

Most important, we provide fast, quality management support to small business owners without any hidden charges. Give us a call on 020 8108 0090 today because your business deserves the best opportunity to succeed.

Payroll consideration

A growing business requires staff with skills that can help your business expand further and faster. Your staff can consist of short-term contractors or permanent employees. Contractors are often cheaper, more flexible, and they tend to be specialists in niche areas like database development and network security which you only require from time to time. On the other hand, permanent employees are focused and loyal to your business; they are the people you can rely on to grow your business.

Employing permanent staff requires PAYE, National Insurance, a pension scheme, as well as other benefits your company provides. These are time-consuming administrative work. Instead of hiring a full-time payroll employee, a cost-effective option for many small business owners is to outsource the payroll function. At TaxAgility, our payroll services for small business are here to assist payroll preparation and compliance for you.


VAT is a complex subject and when a business experiences strong growth, it tends to involve international suppliers and customers. Trading internationally, meaning importing goods from and exporting goods to other countries, often leads to more questions about VAT.

If expanding internationally is on the card, the general guidelines for VAT are:

  • If you are VAT-registered, the suppliers from an EU country do not charge you VAT for goods that they sell to you. However, you must account for the VAT yourself.
  • Suppliers from a non-EU country do not charge you VAT for goods that they sell to you, but you will pay import VAT before customs release the goods to you.
  • If you are selling goods to customers in EU countries and they are not VAT-registered, you will be charging them the UK VAT. But if your customers are VAT-registered, you can then zero-rate (ie not charging VAT) on the goods you sell to them.
  • If you are selling goods to customers outside of the EU, you do not normally charge VAT.

For solid VAT advice, sector-specific VAT issues, completion of VAT returns, and other VAT concerns, talk to one of our VAT service team for small business today by calling 020 8108 0090.


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This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.

How can management accounts be used effectively?

Produced monthly or quarterly, management accounts contain financial data that business owners can use to make decisions.

As a small businesses owner, success is always on your mind and amid your busy schedule, you are likely to receive a set of financial reports from your accountant every month or every quarter. These are management accounts and their purpose is to give you a snapshot of the business activities. The data also allow you to find out how healthy and resilient your business is – for example, is your business running efficiently? Does it have enough cash to pay its bills? How much working capital should you retain in your company?

At TaxAgility, our Accountants for small businesses in London send out management accounts to our clients regularly. What goes into each set depends on the clients and their business activities but typically each set may consist of:

  • Executive summary
  • Profit & Loss
  • Budget variance
  • Balance sheet
  • Aged receivables
  • Aged payables
  • Cash summary

In this article, we aim to discuss some vital data in management accounts that require the attention of small business owners.

Executive summary

An overview of your financial information, this shows the performance of your company, income and profitability in a given period.

Profit & Loss

P&L for short, a Profit & Loss account shows your company’s income minus its expenses. The income can be from sales or other sources like interest earned. On the other hand, expenses can be directly linked to your sales (known as cost of sales) or they can be general operating expenses like rent, insurance and office supplies.

If your income is greater than your expenses, then you have a net profit. But if your income is less than your expenses, then you have a net loss.

It must also be noted that your net profit (or net loss) does not equate to the cash your business has in the bank. For instance, last month you sold a dozen of office chairs to a dozen of clients and they are recorded in your P&L, but only half of them have paid you. The money owed to you by customers who have yet to pay is considered accounts receivable and it is recorded in your balance sheet which we will explain later.

A typical P&L usually has the following components:

  • Income
  • Cost of sales or cost of goods sold
  • Gross profit (income less cost of sales)
  • Expenses, anything from rent, national insurance, IT support, legal expenses to subscriptions
  • Net profit or net loss (gross profit less expenses)

How is the P&L account useful?

1. Determine efficiency

Gross profit (the difference between your income and cost of sales) is an indicator of efficiency. If your gross profit is high, it means your business is keeping more money from each sale made and is efficient.

2. Determine profitability

If your business is recording a net profit, you know that your business is selling products or services that are desirable and well-received, your price structure is right and your expenses are controlled.

3. Work out tax payable

All taxable profits made by your company are subject to corporate tax (the rate is 19% at present).

4. Work out dividends

Many small business owners draw a low salary and use dividends to make up the income. If you are taking this approach, you can only declare dividends to you and your fellow shareholders after the company has paid its corporation tax.

Budget variance

The budget variance shows you the original budget versus what was actually earned and spent in a specific period. Ideally, you want the actual figures to be as close to the budgeted figures as possible.

How is the budget variance useful?

1. Identify issues

Assuming December is a good month to sell toys and accordingly, you have a healthy £10k budget for toy sales in that month. But when January rolls around, you realise that toy sales were only £2k in the previous month, well below the £10 budgeted figure. In this case, the sooner you find out the reasons, the better it will be for the business.

2. Minimise careless spending

Assuming your marketing budget is only £1k a month, you are not likely to splash out on TV advertisements without knowing what positive results they can bring. Instead, you are likely to use the budget wisely, such as using the money to target online shoppers or run advertisements in your local areas.

Balance sheet

A balance sheet shows you what your business owns (assets) and what it owes (liabilities) at a given moment in time.


Assets are divided into current (items of value that can be converted into cash within the next 12 months) and fixed (items that cannot be converted into cash quickly). Examples of current assets are cash, accounts receivable and inventory while examples of fixed assets are equipment, vehicles and goodwill.


Liabilities are financial obligations that the business must fulfil. Liabilities are divided into current (bills that the business is expected to pay within the next 12 months) and non-current (bills that the business cannot settle within the next 12 months). Examples of current liabilities are accounts payable, PAYE payable, wages, pensions, VAT, among others. Examples of non-current liabilities are long-term loans and deferred tax (deferred tax usually happens when your financial year does not match the tax year).


For a limited company, the first line under equity is usually capital, which means the purchased shares. The next lines are current year earnings (net income or loss of the business for the current year) and retained earnings (reserves of profit made in previous years). Total equity refers to the assets left in the business after it has paid its bills and you (the shareholder) can have a claim to.

How is the balance sheet useful?

1. Compare performances

If you compare the numbers between two specific time periods, you can see if the business has performed better or worse. For instance, last month you had £10k in your net assets versus £2k a year ago, this means your business is doing better when compared to the same period a year ago.

2. See how the business is being funded

The formula for debt to total assets ratio is total liabilities divided by total assets. If the ratio is high, it means the company relies on borrowed money and money owed to others to operate, which is worrying.

3. See if the business can meet its financial obligations

The formula for liquidity ratio is total current assets divided by total current liabilities. Assuming your total current assets are £50,000 and your total current liabilities are £10,000, you have a ratio of 5, meaning you have £5 to cover every £1 owed, sufficient money to meet all short-term obligations.

Aged receivables and payables

Aged receivables or aged debtors show outstanding amounts your clients have yet to pay you. These invoices are usually outstanding for 30 days or more. In England, small business owners are painfully aware of the negative impact of aged receivables – they limit your growth and development, which in turn can put your business in jeopardy.

Aged payables or aged creditors, on the other hand, show you which suppliers your business owes at a particular time and how much you owe them.

Cash summary

Sometimes the management accounts also include a cash summary – information about your cash flow like how much money is leaving your company and what is coming in for a selected period. Ideally, you want the inflow of cash to be greater than the outflow, otherwise you will have something called a cash flow gap.

Cash summary is a powerful tool as the data allow you to rethink your budget and reallocate your resources. For more information about cash flow management, this article "Five ways to improve your company’s cash flow" will make a good read.

Sharpen your management accounts with TaxAgility

At TaxAgility, we have been championing small businesses across London since 2008. Our team of Accountants for small businesses work closely with our clients and our objective is to help your business grow.

Knowing that you are busy, we run management accounts for you and explain the key findings clearly, some of the things we look for may include:

  • Compare your original budgets versus actual
  • Check if your business is operating profitably
  • Check if your costs are under control
  • Work out how fast (or slow) your stock is turning over
  • Work out how many days your customers take to pay you
  • Determine how much sales you need to cover your expenses
  • Determine if your business can survive in an economic downturn

Based on this data-driven information, you can make sound decisions like the followings with confidence:

  • Evaluate which products or services are profitable
  • Work out the optimal sale price and allocate the right resource to sell your products/ services
  • Determine the financial effect of your management strategies
  • Lower your expenses
  • Modify your budget
  • Plan for the future
  • Measuring results

At the end of the day, every business deserves the best opportunity to succeed and your business should be no exception. To make money, your business needs to run efficiently, control costs, and sell products or services that meet the demands of your clients. Using data from your management accounts, you can make the all-important decisions that keep your business healthy and on track.

TaxAgility is here to help small business owners

Any questions you have pertaining to your management accounts, give us a call on 020 8108 0090 or use our online form to get in touch. The first meeting is always free and without obligation.

Our philosophy is simple: You win, we win.


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This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.

How to Pay HMRC Online

How to pay HMRC - TaxAgility Accountants London

If you are looking for payment information for HMRC, you'll find this below. However, before you pay, you must ensure you have your tax return completed correctly. If you don't, you may be liable to penalties and interest charges. Self Assessment tax returns can be more complicated that they seem and errors can be costly. Read on, to find out more on avoiding these problems and how TaxAgility can help.

Understanding the Self Assessment tax process, can often be a little confusing, especially where you have outstanding amounts of tax to pay as a small business owners or are self employed. This is an area TaxAgility can help you with. Lets’ first understand how problems arise.

According to HMRC, there are various scenarios which require you to file a Self Assessment tax return, and some of the common scenarios are:

  • You are self-employed.
  • You are a business partner, a director of a limited company.
  • You have an investment income from investment, land, property or overseas which you need to pay tax on.
  • You have made a capital gain.
  • You are a trustee of someone who has passed away.

Most people mistakenly believe that HMRC will contact them and ask them to file a Self Assessment tax return. In reality, HMRC has made it very clear that it is your responsibility to declare taxable income and file a Self Assessment accordingly. The deadline to pay your Self Assessment tax bill is midnight 31 January for any tax you owe for the previous tax year (known as balancing payment) and your first payment on account. Another key date is 31 July for your second payment on account.

Unsure if you need to complete an SA100 Self Assessment tax return form? Checkout our full article that explains when you’ll likely need to complete an SA100.

If you have questions pertaining to your tax situation, contact one of our Accountants in Putney, or Richmond today. With years of experience helping small business owners, contractors and individuals in London to become tax efficient, we can help to take the stress of tax and Self Assessment away.

Understanding payments on account

If your last Self Assessment tax bill is more than £1,000 and you have not paid 80% of all the tax you owe, then you are required to make two payments a year to HMRC before 31 January and 31 July respectively.

Here is a simplified example:

Assuming your tax bill for the tax year 2021/22 was £5,000. Let’s say that you only paid £3,000. You paid HMRC twice, each time £1,500.

The amount you need to pay by midnight January 31st 2023 is now £4,000. The breakdown is as follows:

  • The balancing payment of £2,000 (latest tax bill £5,000 minus previous tax payment of £3,000 that you had paid).
  • £2,500 for the first payment of latest tax bill £5,000.

Then before 31 July, you will need to pay HMRC £2,500 – which is the remaining of your tax bill £5,000.

It is important to note that payments on account do not include anything you owe for capital gains or student loans (if you are self-employed). You will need to pay those in your ‘balancing payment’ on 31 January. This process is indeed complicated, hence it is best to work with a qualified and honest accountant who can assist you.

Don’t really understand your notice of coding letter or tax code? Here’s our article that explains all you need to know about your tax code.

Ways to pay HMRC

You can choose to pay your Self Assessment tax bill online or by telephone banking, by debit or corporate card online (not personal credit card), or CHAPS. If you have received a paying-in slip from HMRC, you can also choose to walk into a bank or a building society and make the payment. Alternatively, you can also choose to pay via BACS, Direct Debit or by check through the post.
We usually encourage our clients to make a payment online as it is efficient, particularly if you are a busy individual juggling multiple tasks or if you reside overseas.
HMRC has two accounts, one is called HMRC Cumbernauld and the other is called HMRC Shipley. If you are paying from the UK, you need the usual sort-code and account number for the respective accounts. If you are paying from an overseas account, you will need BIC and IBAN. Details as follows:

  • HMRC Cumbernauld: Sort-code 08 32 10, Account Number 12001039
  • HMRC Cumbernauld: BIC is BARCGB22 and IBAN is GB62BARC20114770297690
  • HMRC Shipley: Sort-code 08 32 10, Account Number 12001020
  • HMRC Shipley: BIC is BARCGB22 and IBAN is GB03BARC20114783977692

Regardless of the account you are paying into, you must include your 11-character payment reference number when making your payment. This is your 10-number long Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), followed by the letter K (for example, 1234567891K). It can also be found on the original payslip HMRC sent you when you opened your online account.

How to save money on your tax returns

There are many ways to become tax efficient. For example, in this “Tax planning tips for the self-employed ” post, we discuss five options – taking IR35 seriously, considering Flat Rate VAT, incorporating a limited liability company (and with that, you can split your income between salary and dividends, as well as claiming tax relief on legitimate expenses), taking advantage of Annual Investment Allowance, and submitting all the paperwork on time.

If you have heard about using personal allowance, capital gain tax allowance, pensions and ISAs to help with tax planning and would like to know more, then this post “Tax planning and your Personal Allowance” would make a great read.

If you are a working parent and would like to know how strategic family tax planning can benefit you, follow the link to this post “Tax planning for families”.

We are experienced tax accountants and we can help you

To speak with one of our experienced accountants to discuss your Self Assessment, tax matters and payments to HMRC, contact us today on 020 8108 0090 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no obligation meeting.

This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.

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Xero MTD for landlords

Making Tax Digital for landlords: What you need to know as a landlord

Xero MTD for landlordsIf you are a landlord, you will understand that you have certain responsibilities for which you are accountable under the law. These include fire, health and safety regulations; certifications for energy performance, gas and electrical equipment, as well as specific duties with respect to your tenant(s). Further to this, as a landlord, you are obligated to manage your finances and accounts for the purpose of tax reporting.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ Making Tax Digital initiative is now in effect for VAT registered businesses earning above the threshold (£85,000) and will soon become ubiquitous for all businesses in England and Wales – currently set down for April 2020. What this means, is that all businesses will be required to submit mandatory quarterly tax returns (as well as the standard annual return) to HMRC as of this date, through the use of a Government recognised and sanctioned cloud accounting software, including landlords.

Migrating your finances may seem like a daunting task, and there will be a number of changes felt by businesses with established bookkeeping and tax lodgement systems already in place, but before we get into the specifics, TaxAgility, London’s local accountants for small business, will take a brief look at the various taxes applicable to landlords.

What taxes are landlords liable for?

When property owners let out their property, they become liable for several taxes and contributions:

  • Income Tax – If an individual lets property in the UK, they are subject to income tax. The first £1,000 of income from property rental is tax-free and known as a ‘property allowance’. For individuals letting out a property that they personally own, rental income has to be reported if it is 1) £2,500 to £9,999 after allowable expenses or 2) £10,000 or more before allowable expenses.
  • National Insurance – This is required to be paid by landlords who are deemed to be ‘running a business’. A landlord is deemed to be 'running a property business' if 1) being a landlord is their main job, 2) they rent out more than one property and 3) they’re purchasing new properties for the purpose of renting them out. If a landlord meets these requirements and is categorised as running a business under such parameters, they are liable for Class 2 National Insurance, as long as their annual profits exceed £5,965.
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – This is a lump-sum tax that is payable when buying land or property that amounts to more than a certain value. The current SDLT threshold is £125,000 for residential properties and £150,000 for non-residential land and properties, with rates increasing depending on the value of the property.
  • Capital Gains Tax – Landlords will be liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) if they sell a property that has increased in value. The tax is only payable on the profit you have made, not the total amount received. Types of properties that are incorporated under CGT include buy-to-let properties, business premises, land and inherited property.
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) – Lease or sale of residential and commercial properties is usually VAT exempt, but a commercial property owner may ‘opt to tax’ the property for the purpose of recovering VAT charged to the property.

Making tax digital (MTD) for landlords

Instituted in 2018, HMRC has integrated their Making Tax Digital scheme sequentially with respect to the degree of difficulty some businesses might encounter when migrating their finances to online cloud accounting platforms. In essence, Making Tax Digital is an initiative designed to make tax administration more effective, efficient and easier for taxpayers through a fully digital tax system. Instead of filing an annual self-assessment tax return, taxpayers and businesses are required to keep records digitally and send quarterly updates of their finances to HMRC. They will also need to send in a final report at the end of the tax year, together with a claim for any reliefs or allowances.

According to the government’s timetable, as it stands, all businesses including landlords will have to switch to meet the requirements of MTD by April 2020. This means that everyone from large conglomerates and corporations to small businesses and startups will be lodging their financial and fiscal data to HMRC through digital accounting software. In a nut-shell, MTD requirements stipulate that by April 2020, landlords will have to:

  • Maintain their records digitally using MTD-compatible software
  • Report summary information to HMRC every quarter via a digital tax account
  • Make an end of year tax return declaration

Making the transition to the cloud is not as complicated as you might think, and many of the software platforms available are incredibly intuitive and straightforward. Digital tax accounts are accessed via a secure online portal where a property business or individual landlord can see all of their tax details. All of the records will be ‘cloud-based’, meaning that they reside online, and are accessed through commercially available third-party accounting software and mobile apps. Many of these softwares provide easy to understand insights into the financial health and positioning of businesses, however, using them can often be a burden for landlords and property ownership businesses that don’t have the time to also manage their own accounting functions. This is where TaxAgility can help. As Gold Partners of Xero, one of HMRC’s recognised MTD accounting software, we have a proven track record of managing finances and accounts on the cloud and are also able to assist you with the move to digital.

Making tax digital FAQs for landlords

Does it matter if I am a residential or commercial landlord?

It might. If you’re an incorporated property lessor or landlord with an income over £85,000 that has opted in for VAT, you will need to be MTD-compliant from 1 April 2019. If you are a residential landlord, then you won’t have to become MTD-complaint until April 2020, when MTD for income tax comes into effect for all businesses.

What if I rent out multiple properties? Will I have to report for each property or just the business as a whole?

Where multiple properties are held within a business or by an individual landlord, income and expenditure only has to be recorded and submitted for the property business as a whole and does not have to be allocated individually. However, it is good practice in such circumstances to keep a record of the income and expenditure of each property so as to keep comprehensive records and avoid a possible audit by HMRC.

What if I have joint ownership of the property?

There is a difference between properties owned by a partnership or simply owned jointly, such as by a married couple. The principles of the proposed system for partners and partnerships are as follows:

  1. The partnership, rather than each partner, will be responsible for the requirements of Making Tax Digital.
  2. A nominated partner will fulfil these obligations.
  3. There will be an option for the nominated partner to push quarterly summary information of their share of the profit to each partner’s digital tax account. With this option, each partner would have an estimate of their profit to date in the tax year.
  4. When the end of year declaration is made, the nominated partner will be obliged to push each partner’s share of profits to their digital tax accounts.

How TaxAgility can help landlords transit to MTD

If you’ve maintained a paper-and-binders kind of approach to record keeping, you may want to approach an accountant for small businesses for assistance. A local London accountant like TaxAgility can help clients to subscribe to a compatible online ‘cloud’ tax accounting software package, such as Xero. Apart from helping with the MTD transition, TaxAgility also specialises in advising landlords to:

  • identify special tax reliefs available to property owners
  • purchase property with tax-efficiency in mind
  • track tax changes that will impact on your cash flow, tax position or accounting practices
  • prepare and submit landlord accounts and personal tax returns in a timely and accurate manner
  • remember any interim and final payments through the year
  • invest rental income

TaxAgility has worked with Xero since 2011 as a gold partner and certified Xero adviser. This means that our clients get exclusive access to a whole host of benefits, including 25% discounts on Xero subscriptions. As experts in Xero, TaxAgility can help make your transition to Making Tax Digital as smooth as possible. Take advantage of the free 30-day trial and contact us today on 020 8108 0090.

This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

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Xero: How Xero can help with Making Tax Digital

Making Tax Digital is the Government’s imminent legislative initiative that comes into effect for VAT-registered businesses earning above the VAT threshold (£85,000) on 1 April 2019. This will require qualifying businesses to migrate their current financial recording systems to a dedicated digital, cloud accounting platform, and will become ubiquitous for all businesses by April 2020. This means that sole traders, partnerships, landlords and commercial property owners and trading companies and corporations will all be subject to these changes in little over a year.

It’s a big change. Under Making Tax Digital, finances are required to be reported quarterly rather than annually, though the annual tax return is still included under this. Essentially, Making Tax Digital represents a more effective way for the Government to stay updated on companies’ financial reporting – providing less room for error, miscalculation and fraud when it comes to processing tax.

Transitioning your business’s finances to the cloud sounds like a complex and calculated process and indeed it can be unless you have the right help. The scale and scope of the operation depend on the size of your business and the quality of your existing bookkeeping, but some cloud accounting platforms exist that can facilitate a quick and painless migration such as Xero.

In this post, we take a look at the various ways in which Xero can improve your business’s financial accounting and streamline the bookkeeping and accounting process.

Why choose Xero?

There are a number of reasons for choosing Xero as your dedicated cloud-accounting platform, all of which stand to benefit your company and its financial position and stability. Aside from the obvious benefit of being listed by HMRC as a compatible Making Tax Digital platform, using Xero’s accounting software can assist with:

Simplifying and streamlining your accounts

With an intuitive and intelligent interface, Xero is the perfect solution for businesses looking to refine their approach to bookkeeping through clear, concise accounting. The Xero system is simple and straightforward to use, and as it’s built specifically for small business owners and operators, it means you’re not required to have an in-depth knowledge of accounting in order to use it, understand it and in turn, better understand your business’s finances.

Understanding your business’s financial position

By engaging with Xero’s illuminating dashboard overview, you’re provided with a clear, comprehensive and unobstructed view of your business’s financial stability. From automated daily bank feeds to outstanding invoices owed, Xero is compatible with a number of third-party technologies and platforms, and its dashboard offers a holistic insight into your finances - giving you the tools to better understand your business’s positioning and health.

Unadulterated access

With a strictly digital hosting network, Xero’s client data is stored entirely on the cloud. This means that you can access the platform from anywhere in the world; the only requirement is an Internet connection and a compatible device. Further to this, you don’t need to back up your files when using Xero. The secure servers are in place with all necessary redundancy measures, so accessing everything is a remarkably painless affair.

Improving your business’s operations

As a cloud-based platform, Xero provides freedoms that many small businesses once thought out of reach or unattainable. With no need for IT maintenance, no over complicated setup process or the tediousness associated with having to serve a client with a physical invoice the week after completing a job, Xero can make your business a smoother, simpler operation.

Better security of your financial data

Incorporating complex encryption technology into the storage and transference of your business’s financial data, Xero’s cloud accounting technology is a reliable and secure means of keeping your accounts in order. With your data encrypted in both storage and sending phases, any records that you submit online are efficiently and effectively safeguarded - which means your business and its interests are also better protected.

Aligning yourself with future Making Tax Digital Requirements

Despite coming into effect for VAT-registered businesses above the threshold on 1 April 2019, future instalments of the MTD legislation are imminent and will incorporate other forms of business. The ramifications of this are yet to be seen, but depending on how the introduction of MTD for VAT-registered business pans out, there may be changes to the existing and planned tax lodgement processes - so embracing the cloud and familiarising yourself with a platform such as Xero is imperative.

How can TaxAgility help?

As a gold partner of Xero, TaxAgility is privy to a handful of benefits that other tax agents and accountants aren’t. As London’s local accountants for small businesses, we’ve been working with Xero since 2011 and as such, have cultivated a reputation for being experts when it comes to using their digital cloud accounting software – becoming certified Xero advisors in the process.

This certification means that we’re able to provide our clients with special benefits when it comes to subscribing to Xero and using their technology, as well as being able to offer discounts of up to 25% for new small businesses looking to make the switch. Not only can we make it more affordable for your business to migrate its finances to the cloud, but TaxAgility is also able to provide bespoke assistance for businesses whose transition might be more complex or complicated – we’re specialists in start-up and small business accountancy and have a proven track record of delivering reliable accounting advice.

If you have any queries as to the processes by which you can migrate your business’s finances and accounts to the cloud, or would like to get in touch regarding setting up with Xero, TaxAgility can advise and assist regardless of your business type or structure. Moreover, if you’re a small- or medium-sized venture that is interested in securing the services of a qualified, specialist accountancy firm familiar with your needs and your area, London’s local small business accountants, TaxAgility, can help.

Feel free to get in touch on 020 8108 0090 and find out how you can better manage your business and improve your business’s financial positioning.

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This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. 

Paying invoice on a computer with objects around

Xero Accounting: Update your business

Paying invoice on a computer with objects around

At TaxAgility, we understand the importance of proper finance management better than anyone. With online accounting soon to become mandatory due to the Making Tax Digital scheme (MTD), there’s never been a better time to update your account management.

Xero – the right choice

Xero Accounting gives you access to timely, accurate and relevant information at a low monthly cost. It’s an internationally renowned, multi-award winning piece of software. Xero is simple, powerful and compatible with hundreds of third-party apps like PayPal, meaning it integrates seamlessly into nearly every business model. It’s also one of the few online pieces of software that is government approved as fully compatible with MTD.

The advantages of Xero

Built for small business owners – Xero simplifies business accounting for small business owners. You don't have to know any accounting jargon to understand your finances.

Online hosting – As all of your data are stored in the cloud, you can access it from anywhere in the world - you only need an Internet connection. You don't need to worry about backing up your files either, as they will be stored on secure servers with multiple redundancies in place. In addition, there is no need to manually apply software upgrades since the vendor takes care of this for you.

Electronic bank feeds – Xero can be configured to receive your bank statement data automatically, cutting down on administration time. It also presents your data as an electronic bank feed, bringing all of your information together on one screen - no more endless searching through bank statements and invoices.

Automated transactions – Most businesses have recurring, fixed-price transactions, and these repetitive processes are easy to automate. Xero excels at managing repeat payments, plus it also records them for your convenience, letting you view your payments quickly and easily.

Simplified client invoicing – Keeping track of all of your business' invoicing can be hard, and forgotten invoices can hamper your growth if you don't recover money that is owed to you. Xero allows you to set invoice reminders and send your clients emails reminding them about unpaid invoices, so you don't have to manage them yourself.

Flexible reporting – Xero lets you view and share reports and budgets in real-time, so you don't have to wait until the end of the month. It also allows you to condense years of paperwork into simple graphs that plot the shape of your business, how it’s growing and what direction you’re going in. This information is critical in making informed financial decisions about your business. Our accountants can help you make sense of the reports, so you can understand what areas need work and whether your business is on the right track to financial growth.

Easy collaboration – A major benefit of cloud accounting is that you can allow other key users - your bookkeepers and/or your accountants for instance - to access relevant information wherever they are. This means they can review the financial details with you in real time, even over long distances.

Multiple third-party software enhancements – Xero is compatible with over 400 pieces of third-party software that can be used to expand its functionality. For example, the software tool WorkflowMax can aid with project management, and the electronic API Salesforce can offer enhanced Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) functionality by updating both itself and Xero simultaneously.

Extra benefits of Xero

As Gold Partners with Xero, we have extensive experience in working with the software, having helped businesses to use it since 2011. Working with us gives your business access to all of the perks that only a Gold Partner can provide, including insights from Xero-certified advisors to help you use the software to your advantage.

If you wish to discuss Xero Accounting in more detail, please call us on 020 8108 0090 or fill out our Online Form.

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Cloud accounting

3 easy tips to make the most out of cloud accounting

Cloud accounting

The government’s Making Tax Digital scheme is fast approaching and with all businesses expected to be reporting their tax online by April 2019, time is running out to switch to cloud accounting. At TaxAgility, we have years of experience with Xero and Freeagent accounting software, and we’ve got a few easy tips to make your transition that much smoother.

1. Make sure everyone is involved

When making a transition from an accounting software installed in your local machines to a cloud-based accounting software, you need the right support, particularly if you have an immense amount of data to transfer. Getting your bookkeepers and relevant staff involved as early as possible is key. Don't underestimate the scale of change required either - get help from experts if you think the switch will disrupt your daily operations.

2. Choose the right software

There are many options for cloud accounting software on the market right now and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you already understand some basic accounting principles, you may choose more sophisticated software like QuickBooks. However, if you want something that is easy to use without having to learn any accounting principles, consider Xero. Other features to consider depend on your set-up, like if you need to have a payroll function or if you would like to integrate inventory management with an accounting system.

At TaxAgility, we’re gold partners with Xero, which gives us access to exclusive benefits that we can share with you. Our certified Xero experts are also available to help you get the most out of your software. You can learn more about Xero in this post: "Xero Accounting: update your business".

3. Don’t be afraid of asking for help

Just because you’re on track to get everything sorted, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help. One of the greatest benefits of cloud accounting is the streamlining effect it can have on your business when executed properly. Once integrated into your operations, it would be foolish not to take advantage of it.

Although most cloud accounting software is designed with ease of use in mind, many offer add-ons to allow each business to tailor the software to their own needs further. Professional advice can help you set up the add-ons you may find useful in the future, and get you into the necessary habits that will keep everything running smoothly.

Talk to cloud accounting experts

When you do decide to make the transition, the structure you end up with is likely going to be the one you rely on for many years to come. It’s vital to get it right the first time around, especially as it’s going to dictate how you manage your business finances and taxes going forward.

To find out more about how our tax accountants can get you comfortable with cloud accounting, get in touch on 020 8108 0090 or fill out our Online Form.

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Why so many SMEs are switching to Cloud Accounting

In this day and age, every business relies on some kind of technology to help with productivity. For example, we use a computer instead of a typewriter, we have a broadband connection as opposed to a dial-up. In this field of accounting, more and more SMEs are starting to move into cloud-based accounting systems like Xero. At TaxAgility, we have been using cloud accounting for some time now, and we would like to share the benefits of going to the cloud.

It may be beneficial to explain that cloud accounting refers to accounting software that is hosted on remote servers, and where you record transactions over the internet. This practice means you don’t have to install the software in your computer, or own a dedicated server.

Benefits of the cloud

Do work on the go

By using cloud accounting, you are no longer tied to the particular computer in your office that runs the accounting software. You can now easily access your accounts from anywhere - in a coffee shop, at home, in another country. As long as you have internet access you can access the cloud.

Moreover, cloud accounting software is device dependent. You can access your account from any device - desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. This means even if you just take your smartphone on a holiday, you can still be on top of things in the event when an urgent accounting request happens.

Account information is kept safe

The cloud always backs up the work you’ve done, keeping it safe from loss. If there’s a problem or data was accidentally deleted, you don’t have to fret as it can be easily recovered. In business, time is money, keeping your data safe means you don’t need to waste time trying to recover any lost data.

Best of all, the cloud protects your data from cyber attacks or break-ins. This means you don’t have to worry about your accounting data being stolen. Think about the negative effects if your business’ financial information were stolen - the risks of someone stealing from you or using the data against you - each risk has plenty of undesirable and daunting consequences. Cloud accounting can significantly lower your risk and exposure.

Colleagues can collaborate on it

Do you have an accountant that manages the bookkeeping and finances for your business? Sometimes that can feel like you’ve got a bit less control over the business. By using cloud accounting, you can always  keep a watchful eye look alongside your  accountant.

For larger organisations with satellite offices in other countries, cloud accounting means colleagues from across the globe can access the data in real time. There isn’t a need to print out and send the spreadsheet via another method to colleagues in another country. Cloud accounting saves time and effort.

At TaxAgility, we are a team of Accountants, highly experienced and knowledgeable in all accounting needs. If you have yet used cloud accounting, perhaps it is time to start now. We can help to advice and guide you along the way.