Welcome to our Winter 2016, BeCOS Bookkeeping Matters, Newsletter!
In this edition we have an insightful interview with Accountant Peter Brassington on how to avoid fines and how to make your financial life easier. We also celebrate our new FSB award and have some exciting news about our upcoming charity pantomime!
We won an FSB Award!
Several months back Karen, our Managing Director, entered COS in for the FSB awards. She never thought that anything would come of it but she thought she’d at least have a go. We then found out in October that we had been shortlisted in two categories “Family Business of the Year” and “Professional Service of the Year”. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we read the email.
Excited, we nominated Karen to attend the awards ceremony on behalf of the team and sat in anticipation for the 9th November to arrive.
On the night of the awards ceremony Karen headed over to the very prestigious Hilton hotel and was met with a complimentary glass of champagne on arrival. COS member, Gill Arnott, also attended as she had also been nominated for an accolade. It was indeed a proud night for COS whether or not we won.
We also noticed a few other companies who we work closely with were dotted around the room including The Smart Bear Creative and One HR. Both were very deserving of a nomination.
Karen, thinking COS would not be announced, was in utter shock when our name was called out as the Winner of the “Professional Service of the Year Award 2016”! She described herself as “physically shaking” when she heard those words and knew she had to go and receive the award.
Along with a beautiful plaque, Karen was pleased to see a delightful quote on the big screen stating that said “The Judges thought that this company provided good examples of improvements in systems, processes, company culture and increasing awareness in the business and local communities.”.
We would like to say a huge thank you to every one of our hardworking staff and COS Members who have helped us to achieve this award. We’d also like to say thank you to our clients for sticking with us and recommending us to others too. Thank you also to the software companies we partner with who help us determine which software is essential to which clients and members.
For more information about the FSB you can visit their website here.
Can you guess who this is from the COS team? This photograph is either an employee or COS Member.
Tweet us your answers and we will tell you who the mystery person is in our next edition!
Answer to last Guess Who: It was Director Diane Middleton!
Charity Chit Chat
A Charity Pantomime that’s literally out of this world…
February 2017 will showcase a pantomime with a difference. Our charity group, COS & Friends, have teamed up with local amateur dramatic group, The Music Group, to bring you “Starship Humbug: The Next Generation” a pantomime. The show is in aid of Cancer Research UK and will also raise vital funds to help support the Church in which the show is performed.
The pantomime was written by COS staff member Becky and her Father Chris and they also star in the show. COS Director, Karen, is producing the pantomime and Apprentice Luke is performing in the show too.
It’s already a very busy time in the office with the upcoming tax return season but now we’re also all hands on deck in our spare time too!
So, you may ask, what is this pantomime all about? The show is set in on a futuristic intergalactic cargo ship called The Horizon. Evil Captain Marley (who can be compared to Scrooge and Arnold Rimmer mixed together) won’t allow his crew to go home for Christmas. Soon enough “sci-fi” themed ghosts come to visit him to teach him a lesson in goodwill. Think of the show as Scrooge and Red Dwarf crossed together but with humour appropriate for all ages. We even have a special mascot that the kids will love. You can see special appearances from a range of sci-fi favourites which include Star Trek and Star Wars.
If that sounds like something you’d love to attend then you can book your tickets through Eventbrite here. Simply scroll down to the performance of your choice and select the ticket types you would like, tickets will be emailed to you. The show starts on the 14th February through to the 18th.
To book tickets click here. For more details about the show please email email@example.com or call the office line on 0161 850 3355.
Christmas bonuses, VAT, self-assessments and more. An Interview with Peter Brassington from Leon Herman
We work closely with Leon Herman Accountants and they have kindly took some time out to help us answer a few common questions that pop up at this time of year.
- Can you offer any advice on paying staff Christmas bonuses and cash gifts?
The Christmas bonus is a great way for employers to reward staff for their efforts during the year and to help fund the employees’ festivities. Any rewards given to staff are basically taxable whether cash or goods. Ironically rewards or benefits provided as a reward for service have tax and national insurance reporting obligations, but trivial benefits to staff can be excluded for tax purposes if they relate to a staff members’ welfare (i.e. not performance related) an example being flowers for an employee who is unwell.
- What advice can you give about buying Christmas gifts for clients? Are these claimable against tax and can companies claim back the VAT?
In relation to client gifts, it’s a fine line between entertaining or advertising – the latter being better for tax purposes. Small gifts would have to be business related so no alcohol, tobacco or vouchers. Advertising would need a clear advertisement for the company on the gift. If the criteria above were met HMRC could allow up to £50 for a client, this includes wrapping costs, if the cost went over £50 it is likely HMRC would disallow the entire amount. VAT treatment follows the same tact, entertainment is a not reclaimable, advertising however should not be an issue and could be claimed in line with other allowable input VAT.
- January is a mad time for Accountants. What are some of the biggest difficulties you come across?
January can be difficult for Accountants due to the self-assessment electronic tax return filing deadline. It’s busy as certain clients will always want to leave filing a return until the last minute. If every client left tax returns to the end of January meeting client expectations would be difficult, but to be honest I’m very lucky and have a great client base which makes my January busy but not impossible.
- Have you got any tips on how to avoid penalties and fines?
Forward planning and an awareness of what you are required to do is the key to avoiding penalties and fines. I’m a strong believer in getting experts to manage specialist areas of a businesses’ needs so a combination of a good Bookkeeper and a forward thinking Accountant would be my suggestion. Let them deal with managing a businesses’ reporting obligations and penalties and fines will not be an issue.
- How can businesses make this process smoother for both them and their Accountant?
Timely reporting makes the process of avoiding penalties and fines easier. Keeping up to date records also means the information being produced by Accountants is current and relevant. For example, waiting 8 months to produce a Limited company set of accounts after its year end means the accounts being produced will be filed on time, but the accounts being discussed are out of date. Produce accounts as soon as possible after a year end, learn from the numbers which are still current, avoid penalties and know your tax liabilities earlier to manage cash flow. Timely passing of information makes the process easier.
- What can businesses do to prepare for January?
Traditionally the New Year is a time for reflection on the year just gone and time to set goals for the New Year ahead. Forward planning is so key these days for business owners, whether it’s anticipating future problems or being able to take full advantage of opportunities. We do a massive amount of planning with our clients, setting goals and then helping them achieve those goals during the year. A business should continue doing more of what has worked for them and improve those areas of weakness. Understand what your perfect client looks like and plan a strategy to target them. This should not just be a January strategy, but it’s a good time to start if you’re not doing it now.
- Are there any “hacks” that can help businesses to better understand and deal with their accounts?
Computers have brought the opportunity for business owners to get up to date information while on the go, and it’s easier than ever before. Sadly, too much information can muddy the waters and confuse people. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the way to go to enable you to focus and understand the important information in your accounts. Measure and report on what’s important to you whether it’s; clients gained; clients lost; customer satisfaction; gross profit; debtor days; cash flow; every business has its own combination of KPI’s that if met will take the business to the next level. Concentrate on the important things, measure, monitor and improve: your goals will then be met. A small tweak to an internal system can make this kind of reporting easy to produce and focus business owners on the important aspects of a business.
Leon Herman are one of our top recommendations for Accountancy services. You can visit their website here.
This is Annabel, she belongs to Director Diane Middleton and she is a very special cat indeed.
17 years ago she stepped in Diane’s life as a cat that had lost its way. Diane searched for a possible owner, she hung posters and even posted notes through doors, no owner came. Since then Diane has cared for Annabel and she’s a much-loved cat.
Hobbies: Eating Frogs (when she was younger), letting children push her in prams and dress her in clothes, sleeping (about 20 hours a day these days)
Quirks: She can knock on the door when she wants to come in.
Christmas Opening Hours
Our offices will be closed from the 23rd December to the 3rd January.