6 Top Tips on Keeping Your Xero Tidy

Now is the perfect time to go through your Xero and give it a good tidy up.

We recommend checking your contacts, bank reconciliation and bills regularly to avoid errors and headaches. It will save you hours later trying to figure out what has gone wrong.

1. Contacts 

Is your Contacts list getting out of control? It is long and you have a few names for the same contact but you can’t remember which one you used last time?

It is good practice to do a little housekeeping on your Contact list in Xero. Some could be merged if they are duplicates. Maybe some are so old or even erroneous, and they could be archived.

How to merge a contact:

  • From the Contacts menu click the one or more contact you wish to merge into another contact
  • Click Options at the top and select Merge
  • In the Merge Contacts box select the contact that you want to merge to – this is the contact that will remain – choose Merge.

To Archive unwanted contacts, follow the above but in the Options menu select Archive.

Keep your accounts data clean and reduce the risk of missing something, for example if you look up an invoice in one account, only to find later it was on duplicate account.

2. Credit notes

Do you have unallocated credit notes showing in Bills Awaiting Payment screen? Where possible these should be allocated against invoices or cash refunds allocated to them.

To allocate credit note against invoice:

  • open the credit and to Credit Note Options menu.
  • select Allocate Credit
  • enter the credit amount against correct invoice
  • Click Allocated

3. Duplicate purchases invoices

It is a good practise to check if any outstanding purchases invoices in Awaiting Payment have been duplicated. Sometimes you can write the invoice number incorrectly or use purchase order number instead of the invoice number which would result in the same invoice entered twice. If that happened Xero won’t alert you that the invoice is a duplicate.

To quickly check if you have any errors:

  • go to Bills to Pay and select All
  • Search supplier name
  • Review outstanding invoices, amounts and dates

If you think you have paid the invoice, but it is still showing as outstanding you might have reconciled the payment as spend money and not as invoice payment. In this case, search for supplier or amount within the bank account transactions.

4. Outstanding bank items

With direct bank feeds, managing bank account transactions is fast and pain free. But sometimes Xero and bank statement balances do not match. There can be numerous reasons for this, for example unreconciled transactions entered in Xero, missing statement lines, duplicated transactions or errors recording transfers between accounts. See our article 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Reconciling Bank Transactions in Xero.

To check if your bank account balance and the balance in Xero match review the Bank Reconciliation Report.

5. Xero files

If you are using Xero files you can upload and store any document you need for easy access from anywhere. This will help you declutter your office and keep things in one place. Create a separate folder for bank statements, back up documents, supplier statements, HMRC items etc. All Standard and above users can see Xero Files and it is a perfect way to share documents securely with your team or accountant.

6. Bank rules

Are you using bank rules? Set up correctly Bank Rules will save you time when entering recurring transactions such as bank interest or direct debits where a bill is not entered. You need to set up the criteria accordingly, so the correct transactions are identified. For each bank statement line that matches a rule, Xero suggests a transaction using the condition you have set. See our Bank Rules in Xero article for more details.


While Xero is intuitive and easy to use it is not always simple. There are areas we find users make mistakes and find themselves stuck not knowing how to set Xero straight. If you need help fixing Xero, we are here to help. Give us a ring for a friendly chat today.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – how to claim

Here are the links on what and how to claim for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

1. Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

2. Work out 80% of your employees’ wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

3. Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

 

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National Minimum Wage from April 2020

The new National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates coming into effect in April 2020. Here are the details of the new rates which are available on HMRC website.

 

Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines

Meeting your tax filing and payment duties

For any company or individual, meeting their deadlines when it comes to filing and payment of taxes to the government is essential. It is the responsibility of every business to meet their deadlines without fail, as missing these will trigger the risk of getting a penalty. Here are some Filing and Payment deadlines to help you keep up with your duties.

Self-Assessment

 Self-Assessment is a system HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) uses to collect Income Tax. Tax is usually deducted automatically from wages, pensions and savings. People and businesses with other income must report it in a tax return. If you need to send one, you fill it in after the end of the tax year (5 April) it applies to.

 Deadlines:

 Registering and Filing Deadlines:

HMRC must receive your tax return and any money you owe by these deadlines following the end of the tax year:

  • Register for Self-Assessment: 5 October
  • Paper Tax returns: Midnight 31 October
  • Online Tax returns: Midnight 31 January

Payment Deadlines:

The deadlines for paying your tax bill are:

If you prefer to pay regularly throughout the year, you can use a budget payment plan.

Penalties:

You’ll get a penalty if you need to send a tax return and you miss the deadline for submitting it or paying your bill. You’ll get a penalty of £100 if your tax return is up to 3 months late. You’ll have to pay more if it’s later, or if you pay your tax bill late. You’ll also be charged interest on late payments.

PAYE

Any employer would normally operate PAYE as part of their payroll. PAYE is HMRC’s system to collect Income Tax and National Insurance from employment. You do not need to register for PAYE if none of your employees are paid £118 or more a week, get expenses and benefits, have another job or get a pension. However, you must keep payroll records.

Filing: 

When paying your employees through payroll you also need to make deductions for PAYE. The PAYE deductions will be filed to HMRC through RTI (Real Time Information) submission every month on the day of paying your employees.

Payments and deductions:

You’ll be able to view what you owe HMRC, based on your reports. You then have to pay them, usually every month.

You must pay your PAYE bill to HMRC by:

  • 22nd of the next tax month if you pay monthly
  • The 22nd after the end of the quarter if you pay quarterly – for e.g. by 22nd July for 6th April- 5th July quarter.
  • If you pay by cheque through the post deadline is 19th of the month.

CIS

 Under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), contractors deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it to HMRC.

Filing:

 You must tell HMRC each month about payments you’ve made to subcontractors through your monthly return. You do not have to file a return for the months when you made no payments to subcontractors, but you must tell HMRC that no return is due.

Deadlines:

 Send your monthly returns to HMRC by the 19th of every month following the last tax month. For example, if you’re making a return for the tax month of 6 May to 5 June, it must reach HMRC by 19th June.

VAT

 You must register your business for VAT with HMRC if its VAT taxable turnover is more than £85,000* (*VAT registration threshold in 2020).

 You usually submit a VAT Return to HMRC every 3 months. This period of time is known as your ‘accounting period.’

The VAT Return records things for the accounting period like:

  • your total sales and purchases
  • the amount of VAT you owe
  • the amount of VAT you can reclaim
  • what your VAT refund from HMRC is

You must submit a VAT Return even if you have no VAT to pay or reclaim.

Deadlines:

 The deadline for submitting the return online and paying HMRC are usually the same – 1 calendar month and 7 days after the end of an accounting period. You need to allow time for the payment to reach HMRC’s account.

Pay your VAT bill:

 You must pay VAT to HMRC electronically, for example through direct debit or internet banking. Most businesses are not allowed to pay by cheque.

Corporation Tax

Corporation tax or company tax, is a direct tax imposed by a jurisdiction on the income or capital of corporations or analogous legal entities, foreign corporations who have a permanent establishment in the country, or corporations deemed to be resident for tax purposes in the country.

Rate:

Corporation Tax main rate is 19% from the year starting on 1 April 2017. To check the current corporation tax rate click here.

Deadlines:

The deadline for your tax return is 12 months after the end of the accounting period it covers. You’ll have to pay a penalty if you miss the deadline.

There’s a separate deadline to pay your Corporation Tax bill. It’s usually 9 months and 1 day after the end of the accounting period.

Ways to pay:

Make sure you pay HMRC by the deadline applicable. You’ll be charged interest and may have to pay a penalty if your payment is late.

The time you need to allow depends on how you pay. You can no longer pay at the Post Office.

Same or next day:

  • online or telephone banking (Faster Payments)
  • CHAPS
  • by debit or corporate credit card online
  • at your bank or building society

You need a paying-in slip from HMRC to pay at a bank or building society.

3 working days:

  • Bacs
  • Direct Debit (if you’ve set one up with HMRC before)
  • by cheque through the post

5 working days:

  • Direct Debit (if you have not set one up with HMRC before)

 

If the deadline falls on a weekend or bank holiday, make sure your payment reaches HMRC on the last working day before (unless you’re paying by Faster Payments or by debit or credit card).

You can find more information on how to pay HMRC here: https://www.gov.uk/topic/dealing-with-hmrc/paying-hmrc

5 Reasons You Need a Cash Flow Forecast

Cash is the lifeblood of all business, especially for start-ups and small enterprises. We all know the phrase “cash is king”.

If a business runs out of cash and is not able to obtain new finance, it will become insolvent. It is essential that business owners forecast what is going to happen to cashflow to make sure the business has enough to survive. With accounting tools currently available , it is no excuse to claim that you didn’t see a cash flow crisis coming.

What is Cash Flow?

Cash flow is the net amount of cash moving into and out of a business at any given time. The key word here is “time,” as the amount of money moving in and out of your business can only really be understood through a given timeframe. Most businesses track their cash flow on a month-to-month basis.

What is Cash Flow Forecasting?

A cash flow forecast is a projection of an organisations future financial position based on the anticipated payments and receivables. The process of deriving a cash flow forecast is called cash flow forecasting.

A cash flow forecast estimates how much money will flow in and out of your business at any given time. This means it includes all your projected revenues and excludes all your non-cash expenses and costs. A cash flow forecast typically covers a yearly period, though can be made for any time frame—a week, a month, or a year.

5 Reasons You Need a Cash Flow Forecast

Projecting your cash flow can help you plan for the future, avoid unexpected shortfalls and even qualify for a small business loan.

1. Avoid cash flow problems

Unexpected shortfalls can be crippling, and it may take months (if not longer) to recover. Negative cash flow can creep up on you if you don’t consistently track the cash coming in and going out of your business. Fortunately, shortfalls are often avoidable with a bit of foresight.
Projecting your cash flow will help you identify and plan for market swings, seasonal fluctuations and other business patterns that can lead to unpredictable cash flow. Forecasting can even help you visualize cash flow trends with the help of automatically generated charts and graphs.

2. Anticipate the impact of upcoming changes

Does your business plan to purchase new equipment? Launch a new product? Cash flow projections allow you to gain a complete picture of the ripple effect that these types of changes will have on your cash flow.
When your finances are synced up with an online cash flow management tool, cash flow projections are automatically generated based on future invoices, bills due and payroll. You can then create “what if” scenarios, such as buying new equipment. Forecasting shows you how the cost will affect your bottom line, along with the potential increase of revenue generated by the new machine.

3. Optimize the timing of accounts payable and receivable

Many avoidable cash flow issues are often a simple matter of timing. Significant delay time between invoicing your customers, or shipping out products, and getting paid can cause unnecessary strain on your cash flow.
Cash flow projections that are based on your financial history can help you anticipate when you’ll be paid for your services or products. This allows you to stagger or otherwise adjust outgoing payments to your vendors accordingly. This will help avoid putting yourself in the uncomfortable position of not being able to pay your suppliers, or worse, your employees.

4. Better decision making

Another benefit of being able to run different scenarios through your cash flow forecast is that you can make better operational decisions.
Perhaps you have a choice between additional staff or investment in equipment and you aren’t sure which decision is going to be most profitable for your business in both the short and long term.
Forecasting the different options will give you the information you need to make these decisions with confidence and assurance that you know what impact they will have on your business.

5. Prove You Can Pay Back the Loan You Requested

When you apply for a small business loan, lenders will examine your cash flow history in an attempt to answer one key question: can this borrower pay back the loan they’re requesting?

Asking for a loan of any amount without showing your plan for paying it back is a good way to land in the rejection pile. This is especially true if your current cash flow won’t clearly cover all of your regular operating expenses — plus your loan payment.
If you find yourself in this situation, cash flow projections can help strengthen your case by showing the lender exactly how you plan to use their funds to get to a place where you can easily make loan payments. This type of forecasting allows you to hand over a road map that can instil a lender with the confidence they need to approve your loan.

 

By maintaining a cash flow forecast, you get a significantly more accurate read on the financial health of your business. Furthermore, you’ll be prepared for times when money might be tight and identify certain patterns in your cash flow fluctuations. Perhaps most important with a cash flow forecast you’ll be able to relieve the anxieties of the unknown and sleep more easily knowing that you’re prepared for what’s to come. If you need any help with your business’s Cash Flow Forecast, get in touch with us at Cloudit Bookkeeping – we are always happy to help.

Why should your business set a budget?

Time and money are the most valued resources for all individuals and organizations. Efficient and effective use of these resources requires planning and sometimes creativity, especially if you are starting out or are a small business.

Planning on how to use your time and money in your business alone is not enough, as you and I already know. Best intentions not always result in actions and sticking to the plan.  That’s where we need control to ensure that plans are carried out.

That’s where a budget really helps.

A budget is a tool that managers use to plan and control the use of scarce resources. A budget is a plan showing the company’s objectives and how management intends to acquire and use resources to attain those objectives.

Budgeting is the process of creating a plan to spend your money. It is a financial plan for the future concerning the revenues and costs of a business. However, a budget is about much more than just financial numbers.

Budget for Business:

Budgets are an integral part of running any business efficiently and effectively.

Once a business is established, budgeting becomes a regular task that normally occurs on a quarterly and/or annual basis, where the past quarter or year’s budget is reviewed, and budget projections are made for the next three or even five quarters or years. The basic process of planning a budget involves listing the business’s fixed and variable costs on a monthly basis and then deciding on the allocation of funds to reflect the business’s goals.

Businesses often use special types of budgets to assess specific areas of operation. A cash flow budget, for instance, projects your business’s cash inflows and outflows over a certain period of time. Its main use is to predict your business’s ability to take in more cash than it pays out.

 

Why Does Your Business Need a Budget?

Without a budget, you may not know how your business is performing. A budget provides an accurate picture of expenditures and revenues and should drive important business decisions such as whether to:

  • Increase marketing
  • Cut expenses
  • Hire staff
  • Purchase equipment
  • Improve efficiencies in other ways

A comprehensive budget will also be a definite requirement for obtaining business loans from financial institutions or seeking equity funding from investors.

Budgeting is always helpful since it helps you to track revenue and expenses and manage cash flow. But creating a budget that does nothing more than set spending limits can damage a small business by preventing it from reacting to market conditions. A flexible budget helps you to adjust spending, increase marketing to expand sales, react to an unexpected drop in revenues and otherwise operate your company using real-time data to keep it on track.

Planning

A budget is a planning tool necessary for building a framework for your business and its finances. Combining past trends with realistic forecasts for the year, a budget provides a detailed view of assets, realistic revenue expectations, and how those balance against your anticipated expenses.

Budgets also help with setting goals and establishing priorities. A budget should detail where funding will come from to execute new strategies and how much revenue can be generated by executing the strategies successfully. The line items that command the most funding or generate the most revenue typically are high-priority items, and that can serve as a good reminder of your overall strategy when making decisions.

Evaluation

In addition to being an important part of the planning process, budgets are necessary for evaluating the performance of your company over the course of the year. Part of budgeting responsibly is tracking actual revenue and expenses and comparing them to what was budgeted. This helps to assure that your business is sticking to its plans but budgeting also offers an important means of identifying problems and opportunities.

Financing

A history of writing sound, detailed budgets and sticking to them can help show lenders or potential investors that you know how to develop a business plan and make it work. Lenders and investors certainly will want to dig much more deeply into your finances and history, but if they don’t see evidence of strong budgeting practices, that might be enough of a red flag to turn them away.

If you are opening a new business and have little or no history, you need to make up for that lack of track record with detailed support for your budget. This means doing research into the marketplace and showing how past trends or perhaps a void in the industry supports the numbers you are presenting. This kind of attention to detail can help you gain serious consideration from lenders or investors.

Benefits of a business budget:

There are a number of benefits of drawing up a business budget, including being better able to:

  • Manage your money effectively
  • Allocate appropriate resources to projects
  • Monitor performance
  • Meet your objectives
  • Improve decision-making
  • Identify problems before they occur – such as the need to raise finance or cash flow difficulties
  • Plan for the future
  • Increase staff motivation

Budgeting in a business has benefits and consequences that go beyond the financial dimension and have more to do with business management in general.

Consider the following additional benefits of a budgeting process:

  • Budgeting forces managers to do better forecasting. Managers should be constantly checking the business environment to spot changes that will impact the business. Vague generalizations about what the future may hold for the business are not good enough for building a budget. Managers must put their predictions into definite and concrete forecasts.
  • Budgeting motivates managers and employees by providing useful measures for evaluating performance. The budgeting process can have a good motivational impact by involving managers in the budgeting process and by providing incentives to managers to strive for and achieve the business’s goals and objectives.
  • Budgeting can assist in the communication between different levels of management. Putting plans and expectations in black and white minimizes confusion and creates a common language. Well-crafted budgets can undeniably help the communication process.
  • Budgeting is essential in writing a business plan. New businesses need to present a convincing business plan when raising capital. Because these businesses may have little or no history, the owners must demonstrate convincingly that the company has a clear strategy and a realistic plan to make profit. A clear, realistic budget forecast is an essential part of a business plan.

Creating a business budget will make operating your business easier and more efficient. A business budget can also help to make sure that you’re spending money in the right places and at the right time to stay out of debt. Cloudit Bookkeeping can help you put your budget in place and assist you with planning and re-evaluating your forecasts. Get in touch with us to find out more.

Are Your Jobs Profitable? Why Track Project Profitability With Xero

If you’re in the business of providing a service, you are likely to offer up your time and expertise to clients anywhere, throughout the day. Whether over the phone, via email or in person, any time spent on one client’s job is less time spent on something else and is therefore a cost to you. This cost can easily be missed if you’re relying on spreadsheets, notebooks or even scraps of paper. You might also have costs associated with delivering your service to your client which you want to recharge to them, and it might take a while to go back through the records and put these costs together.

Good news is – Xero offer Projects module to solve these problems in an easy and straightforward way within the accounting software. It comes with the mobile app, so tracking is easy and project accounting is a breeze.

Xero Projects is the simple way to track the time and money you spend on each job, allowing you to focus on the right work, improve efficiency and drive profitability.

With the Projects mobile app, you can add a project as soon as you start it, from wherever you may be. That means you can stay on top of your project expenses as they come in and record your time as you go about your business.

Why should you track your project profitability in Xero? Here are just a few reasons for using Xero Projects:

  • Have everything in one place, accessed with one Xero login
  • Intuitive, simple to activate and use
  • Supports fixed price, time and expenses invoicing
  • Assign your actual invoices, bills and bank transactions to project
  • Visibility across all jobs and how they’re tracking
  • Monitors budgets and job costs
  • Out-of-the-box reporting
  • Timesheet insights and reporting
  • Real-time view of all your Projects in one place
  • Monitor job costs from day to day to stay on track

Get your billing right every time

Track time, enter receipts and expenses, and record any deposits against each project so you can bill accurately on time and don’t miss anything.

Invoice the way that suits you

Create fixed price, time and materials, or progress payment invoices. Details can be uploaded automatically, saving you time and avoiding errors.

Gain insights you need to succeed

Monitor and track project performance with up-to-the-minute reports on time and costs to help you keep to budget and decide when to invoice.

Review actuals against budget

Add estimates for project costs to the project budget and monitor it to make sure you’re turning a profit.

Capture all of your job costs

Assign bills and expenses, and record deposits against each project so you can invoice accurately and on time.

Quote based on what’s gone before

Use the figures and reports from previous projects so you know what to realistically quote next time round.


Profitability and time are the linchpin of service businesses. Xero Projects is geared for businesses with straightforward time and job cost tracking needs such as design and web design agencies, marketing agencies, consultancies, and even businesses in construction industry. It will really appeal to those still fiddling around in spreadsheets, or who find most project management software too complex. If you need help with using Xero Projects, we, at Cloudit Bookkeeping will be happy to help you.

 

 

Record Keeping Under MTD

Making Tax Digital for VAT requires VAT registered businesses with taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold to keep records in digital form and file their VAT Returns using software.

It is increasingly common for business records and accounts to be kept digitally, in a software program on a computer or tablet, or in a smartphone application, or maintained through such a device and stored using a cloud-based application.

The difference under Making Tax Digital is that the software which businesses use must be capable of keeping and maintaining the records specified in the regulations, preparing their VAT Returns using the information maintained in those digital records and communicating with HMRC digitally through the Application Programming Interface (API) platform.

If your digital records are up to date, software will be able to collate and prepare your return for you. It will then show the return to you and ask you to declare that it is correct and confirm that you want to submit it to HMRC. Once you have submitted your return you will receive confirmation through your software that it has been received.

What records you must keep and how to keep them if you’re registered for VAT

Records you must keep

The basic rule is that you must create and keep normal business records. You do not have to keep records in a set way and most bookkeeping and computer systems will meet this requirement.

Apart from keeping business records and the special requirements, HMRC asks that records are complete, up to date, and allow you to calculate correctly the amount of VAT that you have to pay or can claim from them.

Special records for VAT

There are 2 records that are specifically required for VAT. These are:

  • the VAT account, in many cases this will be based on a routine business record of VAT you owe or can claim
  • a VAT invoice for supplies to other VAT-registered businesses, a ‘VAT invoice’ is just the term for an invoice which contains some information required by the VAT rules, most commercial invoices will already hold the right information

Business records

VAT law requires you to keep all your business records. The view of business records is wide and will include:

  • annual accounts, including profit and loss accounts
  • bank statements and paying-in slips
  • cash books and other account books
  • credit or debit notes you issue or receive
  • documentation relating to dispatches and acquisitions of goods to or from EU member states
  • documents or certificates supporting special VAT treatment such as relief on supplies to visiting forces or zero rating by certificate
  • import and export documents
  • orders and delivery notes
  • purchase and sales books
  • purchase invoices and copy sales invoices
  • records of daily takings such as till rolls
  • relevant business correspondence
  • VAT account

What a business record is will depend on the type of business you run. You’ll always have to keep a VAT account and copies of invoices, but some of the other records may not be a normal record in your business. If that’s the case, you do not have to keep such a record just for VAT. But equally, some businesses will create additional business records, and these must be kept and produced to HMRC when you’re asked.

Keeping records

Generally, you must keep all your business records for VAT purposes for at least 6 years. Records that you use for other tax purposes may need to be kept for longer periods.

If the 6-year rule causes you serious storage problems or undue expense, or you need advice on records for other types of tax, then you should consult VAT general enquiries in HMRC portal. HMRC may be able to allow you to keep some records for a shorter period.

Additional records you might have to keep

HMRC may direct some businesses to keep additional records. This is where they have reasonable grounds to believe that such records might help them identifying supplies on which VAT is at particular risk of going unpaid. This will most commonly arise with supplies of mobile phones and computer chips but is not limited to these types of supplies. Failure to comply with one of these directions can result in a financial penalty.

You have a right of appeal against the issue of a direction and against the imposition of any penalty for non-compliance.

Keeping records on your computer

It’s common for business records and accounts to be kept on a computer and there are no special VAT rules about using a computer.

Failing to keep or produce records

There’s a financial penalty for failure to keep or produce the records required by law.

You can request a review of any penalty or appeal to an independent tax tribunal.

 

Digital record-keeping

All VAT registered businesses must keep and preserve certain records and accounts. Under Making Tax Digital, some of these records must be kept digitally within functional compatible software. Records that are not specified in this notice, or that are not required to complete your VAT Return, do not need to be kept in functional compatible software.

Some software will record all your VAT records and accounts information. However, there are some records that by law must be kept and preserved in their original form either for VAT purposes or other tax purposes.

Example

A business receives an invoice and types selected data contained in the invoice into functional compatible software. They must still keep the invoice in its original form as the data in the functional compatible software is not a copy of the invoice.

If you deregister from VAT you will no longer need to keep digital records in functional compatible software, but you must retain your VAT records for the required period.

Functional compatible software

Functional compatible software is a software program, or set of software programs, products or applications, that must be able to:

  • Record and preserve digital records.
  • Provide to HMRC information and returns from data held in those digital records by using the API platform.
  • Receive information from HMRC using the API platform.

Digital links:

Data transfer or exchange within and between software programs, applications or products that make up functional compatible software must be digital where the information continues to form part of the digital records. Once data has been entered into software used to keep and maintain digital records, any further transfer, recapture or modification of that data must be done using digital links. Each piece of software must be digitally linked to other pieces of software to create the digital journey.

A ‘digital link’ is one where a transfer or exchange of data is made, or can be made, electronically between software programs, products or applications. That is without the involvement or need for manual intervention such as the copying over of information by hand or the manual transposition of data between 2 or more pieces of software.

HMRC also accepts that the following are digital links:

  • Emailing a spreadsheet containing digital records so the information can be imported into another software product
  • Transferring a set of digital records onto a portable device (for example, a pen drive, memory stick, flash drive) and physically giving this to someone else who then imports that data into their software
  • XML, CSV import and export, and download and upload of files
  • Automated data transfer
  • API transfer

Soft landing regarding digital links requirements

HMRC will allow a period of time, the “soft landing period”, for businesses to have in place digital links between all parts of their functional compatible software.

For the first year of mandation businesses will not be required to have digital links between software programs.

This means that if Making Tax Digital rules first apply to you from a:

  • VAT period starting on or after 1 April 2019 – you will have until your first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2020 to put digital links in place
  • VAT period starting on or after 1 October 2019 – you will have until your first VAT return period starting on or after 1 October 2020 to put digital links in place

During the soft landing period only, where a digital link has not been established between software programs, HMRC will accept the use of ‘cut and paste’ or ‘copy and paste’ as being a digital link for these VAT periods

Submission of information to HMRC

The submission of information to HMRC must always be through an API. While HMRC expects most businesses to use API-enabled commercial software packages both to keep digital records and file their VAT Returns, the following alternatives may be available.

Bridging software

This is a digital tool incorporating relevant Making Tax Digital APIs that is used to connect accounting software to HMRC systems. It allows the required VAT information to be reported digitally to HMRC, and for information to be sent digitally back to the business from HMRC.

API-enabled spreadsheets:

These are spreadsheets that incorporate relevant Making Tax Digital APIs. They can either:

  • combine with accounting software to submit the required VAT information digitally to HMRC, and allow information to be sent back to the business digitally from HMRC
  • be used to keep digital records and then directly submit the required VAT information digitally to HMRC.

Errors found in records

Where you find that your VAT records contain errors, you will need to correct them. This guidance only applies to declarations of UK VAT and doesn’t apply to VAT MOSS returns, as these contain declarations of VAT due in other EU member states. To correct errors in declarations of VAT due in other member states, you will need to follow the rules of the relevant EU member state.

If that advice does not fit your particular circumstances, you may need further help from HMRC VAT Helpline, or you may wish to consult your own tax adviser.

Where an error has led to a misdeclaration on a VAT return you’ve already sent to HMRC, you can always correct the error at a later point of time using HMRC links. If you deliberately fail to correct an under declaration of VAT, you may be liable to a penalty or even criminal prosecution.

 

The records listed must be kept, maintained and preserved in digital form. The exact way you must enter the information will depend on the software package. The API enabled spreadsheets can be used to keep digital records and then directly submit the required VAT information digitally to HMRC. Contact us at Cloudit Bookkeeping if you are unsure about how and what the records should be maintained and filed to HMRC and how to manage accounts digitally.

 

App of the Week – AutoEntry

With every task we do, we always ask the question “Is there a better way?” And with day to day bookkeeping – YES, there is! That’s why AutoEntry is our choice of The App of The Week.

AutoEntry simplifies your business’ bookkeeping. It eliminates manual data entry for accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses. It automates the extraction and processing of bills, invoices, expenses and receipts and inputs them directly into your accounting solution.

It is perfect for small and medium businesses across all industries where volume of invoices and receipts is high. No more manual data entry of invoices, receipts, bills or statements. Simply email, scan and upload, or snap with your mobile app.

Features

  • Submit Documents – No more manually inputting invoices, receipts or invoices. AutoEntry extracts the data you need and publishes to your accountancy package.
  • Data Security – AutoEntry employs best practice security policies including encryption across the platform.
  • Full Line Item Capture – AutoEntry captures full line items, including the description, unit price and quantity for each line, with verified accuracy.
  • Item line settings – Apply rules to allow AutoEntry to ‘remember’ specific line item descriptions, or certain words within a description.
  • Purchase Order Matching – AutoEntry syncs captured invoices to matching open purchase orders.
  • Document Storage – Once AutoEntry has posted your data, it creates digital records, so users no longer needs to hang on to large quantities of paper documents, with client data stored securely in the cloud.
  • Integrate seamlessly – It integrates with your accounts software including Xero, QuickBooks Online, Kashflow, Sage 50, Sage One, Reckon, Freeagent and others.

 Additional Features

  • Data extracted & verified – Remove manual errors and rely on quickly searching secured stored, digital copies.
  • Smart analysis – Easily submit invoices, expenses and receipts as you get them, on the go.
  • Auto-publish – Seamless automatic publishing of verified data into your account software.

 How it works

  • Capture and submit documents – Forward emails from suppliers, snap receipts on the mobile app, or scan and upload to the website.
  • Accurate, automated data extraction – Data is processed and verifies before applying remembered Supplier, Tax Code and Category rules.
  • Seamless integrations – The add-ons ensure the seamless automatic publishing of verified data in your account software

Benefits

  • Save time – No more manually inputting invoices, receipts, expenses or statements. AutoEntry extracts the data you need and publishes to your accountancy package.
  • Paperless – With data stored securely in the cloud, there’s no need to store, file, print and copy paper documents anymore.
  • Integrations – Seamless automatic publishing of verified data into your accounting software.
  • Mobile app – Submit invoices, receipts and expenses on-the-go via the mobile app for iOS and Android devices.                                                                                                                       

Pricing

Powered by AI, AutoEntry is becoming increasingly sought after, due to its accuracy, speed and impressive range of in-built features. And, as well as being the smartest solution out there, with its flexible, pay-as-you-use pricing plans, AutoEntry also offers the best value for money. Users only pay for the documents they upload onto the platform, as needed month by month. Adding more companies or employees incurs no extra fees, meaning the whole team can make use of the solution without any fuss or extra expense. Advanced pricing plans available for firms with a large volume of documents.

By using AutoEntry, your businesses gain the following benefits:

  • Reduce the time and cost spent on manual data entry
  • Eliminate human error
  • Improve service turnaround times
  • Submit receipts and invoices on-the-go with its mobile app
  • Drive employee engagement
  • Store data more securely in the cloud

 AutoEntry + Xero

AutoEntry works by capturing and analyzing details from paper documents, before posting this information into a user’s Xero account. By leveraging the solution’s in-built intelligence, the data is entered into the correct fields every time, so there’s no fuss or room for error. 

 

Getting started

  1. Log into your AutoEntry account and go to ‘Company Setting’
  2. Click on the ‘Integrations’ tab and select Xero

Link your Xero with AutoEntry so that when you Publish your receipts or statements, they will directly be uploaded into Xero.

 With AutoEntry, you can say goodbye to piles of paperwork and hours spent typing up data, and get back to what really matters, serving their customers and growing their business. If you need help with setting up AutoEntry or integrating it with Xero we, at Cloudit Bookkeeping, will be happy to assist you.

What does Balance Sheet tell you about your business?

Balance sheets are used internally to guide management decisions. Externally, they can be used to report the financial status of your business to lenders, investors and other stakeholders.

The balance sheet gives you a snapshot of how much your business owns (its assets) and how much it owes (its liabilities) as at a given point in time. That might be today, or it might be at the end of your business’s accounting year.

It summarizes the financial health of a company, showing how it is funded and what it has done with that funding. This is why a balance sheet is also recorded as a ‘Statement of Financial Position’ in accounting terms.

What is on the Balance Sheet?

The balance sheet is presented in three sections:
Assets such as properties, furniture and fittings, equipment, stock for sale, cash and money owed to you.
Liabilities such as your bank overdraft, loans and other money you owe.
Equity such as share capital and Retained Earning.

What does Balance Sheet tell you about your business?

The balance sheet presents a company’s financial position at the end of a specified date. If your business owns more than it owes, then the balance sheet total will be a positive figure. If your business owes more than it owns, the balance sheet total will be negative- and that’s not good news, because it means your business doesn’t have enough money available to pay all its debts.

As well as this quick check, you can also use your balance sheet to calculate some useful ratios.

Tracking your company’s finance can help you identify potential issues before they turn into major problems. Ultimately, a balance sheet provides the information you need to sustain and grow your business over time.

Components of the balance sheet

A balance sheet has three sections: assets (what the business owns), liabilities (what the business owes both now and, in the future,) and owners’ equity (assets + liabilities). Let’s take a closer look at each.

Assets

Assets include current assets, fixed assets and other assets. Current assets include:

  • Cash
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Inventory
  • Assets that can quickly be converted to cash such as certificates of deposit

Fixed assets are long-term assets that your business will have for more than 12 months. They include:

  • Equipment
  • Buildings
  • Land
  • Vehicles
    You may also have intangible assets, such as trademarks or patents.

Liabilities

Current liabilities are those that need to be paid within the next 12 months, such as:

  • Accounts payable
  • Taxes
  • Payroll
  • Debt service
  • Credit card payments

Long-term liabilities will not be paid within the next 12 months. These include:

  • Outstanding loans (minus the current portion of these debts)
  • Mortgages

Owners’ or shareholders’ equity

Add together assets and liabilities to arrive at your owners’ equity or shareholders’ equity. Ideally, this should be a positive figure, but if things aren’t going well, it could be a negative number.

If your owners’ equity remains negative, it will affect not only your profitability, but also your ability to get capital from lenders or investors. Financing sources want to see that a business is doing well enough financially to service its debt or make a profit for investors before they will put any money into your business.

What does the Balance Sheet say?

It Determines Risk and Return
A Balance sheet briefly lists your assets and liabilities in one place. Current and long- term assets reflect your ability to generate cash and sustain operations. In comparison, short and long-term debts prioritize your business’s financial obligations. Ideally, you have more assets on your balance sheet than liabilities, indicating positive net worth.

Comparing your current assets to current liabilities determines whether your business can cover its short-term obligations. If your current liabilities exceed your cash balance, your business may require additional working capital from outside sources. However, a balance sheet can also show you when your debt levels are unsustainable. If you have too much debt on your balance sheet, you may default on debt payments or declare bankruptcy.

It can be used to Secure Loans and Other Capital
Your balance sheet allows people outside of your company to quickly understand its financial condition. Most lenders require a balance sheet to determine a business’s financial health and creditworthiness. Additionally, potential investors may use it to understand where their funding will go and when they can expect to be repaid.

When updated over time, your balance sheet effectively shows your ability to collect payments and repay debts. Plus, it shows lenders that you have a track record of managing assets and liabilities responsibly. If you apply for a loan, it will also show lenders that you’ll likely repay your debts in a timely manner.

It Provides Helpful Ratios
Ratios are often used in financial statement analysis to indicate a company’s operational efficiency, liquidity, profitability, and solvency. These financial ratios are particularly helpful when assessing the long-term sustainability of a business. They can be determined by a company’s balance sheet accounts.

For example, your balance sheet is a snapshot that reveals your company’s overall capital structure. It can also tell you how long it takes to sell inventory and the length of your accounts receivable process. This information can help you identify trends and see how your company’s finances and operations compare to competitors.

What’s your business worth
Ultimately, a balance sheet calculates the value of your business. Even if you are not planning to sell your business in the near future, think of it as a way to keep score.

You may find out your business is less successful — or more successful — than you thought it was. Most people greatly overestimate the value of their businesses, so getting a reality check can be helpful. By pinpointing shortfalls in your business’s finances, a balance sheet can help you make long-term changes that will improve your company’s chance of success.

  • Balance Sheet helps in knowing past and present position of an enterprise.
  • You can use it to obtain a very thorough summary of the company’s financial health by analyzing its working capital and liquidity
  • It provides an insight into the company’s likelihood of defaulting on its credit obligations or even its bankruptcy risk

A Balance sheet is actually a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes to monitor their progress and see how they’re doing. It can help you make long-term changes that will improve your company’s chance of success. Collectively a Balance Sheet is a mirror of a business.

If you need any help with understanding your Balance Sheet we, at Cloudit Bookkeeping, will be happy to assist you.

Are you wasting time processing expenses?

Expense claims are an administrative burden for all businesses. From taxis, flights, meals, supplies, and everything in between – there are countless expenses that need to be reimbursed to the people who work at the company. But it’s amazing how the simple task of reimbursing employees turns into a paper-filled back-office nightmare.

With many apps now available, the task of tracking and recording expenses is becoming easier and more efficient, saving business owners and their accounting team hours in administrative time.

We love Xero and their new Expenses function where employees can capture receipts and submit claims for their work expenses with their mobile device. Let’s have a look at how it works and how it can save you hours in dealing with paperwork.

Xero Expenses:

Xero Expenses works seamlessly with Xero accounting package, and has all the tools and insights small businesses need to efficiently track and manage expense claims. You can now Capture expenses on the go and keep everyone up to date with push notifications.

A better way to manage expense claims in Xero

The Xero Expenses offers small businesses a more efficient way to manage expense claims with:

Expenses Mobile

  • Faster expense captureto reduce data entry through automatic scanning of receipts and eliminating the need to store paper versions.
  • iOS and Android appspush notifications to let businesses, employees and advisors capture, submit and keep up to date on the status of expense claims from anywhere.
  • More flexible user permissionsto give complete control of whocan view, submit, and approve or pay an expense claim for or on behalf of someone else.
  • Simple and intuitive workflowsto make it easy to see where an expense is at, review and approve all unpaid expenses, and create batch payments to get employees paid promptly.
  • Greater insights and powerful analyticsto empower businesses and their advisors with a detailed and real-time understanding of spending habits and patterns.
  • And with multi-currency, relevant notificationsand seamless Xero accounting integration, the new Xero Expenses is smarter, easy to use, and designed to benefit both the small business and their employees.

Advantages

  • Easily capture and submit expenses

You’ll find automatic receipt processing in the Xero Expenses. Small business owners can easily capture and submit expense claims through their mobile device on both iOS and Android. Simply take a quick picture of the receipt and let Xero submit the expense claim. The design and workflow improvements make it easy to capture and submit an expense claim without the paper chase or endless follow up.

  • Eliminate Hidden costs

With reduced data entry and by streamlining everything from submitting expenses through to reconciling transactions, you can eliminate the hidden costs.

  • Better visibility

You can see all the most important information at a glance, so you always know where your expenses and cash flow stand.Expenses chart

  • Enables Growth

Access valuable real-time reporting and powerful analytics to monitor patterns, plan ahead and make fast, informed decisions.

  • Flexible controls and permissions

The user permissions model gives more flexibility and control to the right people at the right time during the expense claims process. This significantly simplifies the workflow and boosts efficiency. That’s because only appropriate people in the business can view, submit, approve or decline, and pay an expense claim.

You can also find a highly-requested feature – the ability for a user (typically an accountant or owner) to submit an expense claim on behalf of other people in the organization. The relevant people will receive real-time push notifications on their mobile phones, which makes it easy for accountants, business owners and employees to keep each other up to date.

  • Easy review and payment

Xero expenses provide you list views and expense drill-down views, which can save you time and let you enjoy better functionality:

  1. The expense claim list immediately gives you a high-level view of your own or your employees’ expense claims in easy-to-consume groupings, such as by status or by employee. The most important information required for review, approval and payment are available at a quick glance. These include status, amount, expense account, description, vendor and date. From the list, just one click will let you drill down into the details of the expense – and provide a view of the receipt, tax details, tracking categories and associated label.
  2. You can view approved expenses claims that are awaiting payment within bills. Xero provide links to and from bills, so you can conveniently view bills associated to expense claim reimbursement side by side with vendor and supplier bills. This allows you to more easily make a decision around who and what gets paid in one simple view.
  • Expense analytics

Quite simply you have to know how your staff spends money and if they follow established rules and policies. An exciting new feature gives small businesses and their accounting partners deeper insights into spending and expense claims that will provide actionable findings. Accountants and business owners have access to a real-time and accurate view of their expenses.

With Xero Expenses function, expense claims are no more a burden. It makes create, review, approve and paying an expense claim not only easy but also quick. It saves a lot of time and provides you the opportunity to enjoy better functionality. If you need any help exploring Xero Expenses or any other Xero features, talk to one of our trained bookkeepers and we will be happy to assist you.

National Minimum Wage from April 2019

The new National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates coming into effect in April 2019. Here are the details of the new rates which are available on HMRC website.

NMW 2019-2020

What does Proft and Loss report tell you about your business?

What is a profit and loss statement?

A profit and loss statement shows how much your business has spent and earned over a specified time. This shows whether your business has made a profit or loss during that time – hence the name. A profit and loss statement might also be called an ‘income statement’, a ‘statement of operations’, a ‘statement of earnings’ or a ‘P&L’.

A profit and loss statement shows all your revenue and expenses. This includes things like payroll, advertising, rent and insurance. It will also show your earnings from sales and other forms of income.

Your total profit or loss for the time period you’ve chosen is what you’ve earned minus what you’ve spent. If this amount is positive, it’s called a net income. If it’s negative it’s called a net loss.

What does a profit and loss account include?

A profit and loss account will include your credits (which includes turnover and other income) and deduct your debits (which includes allowances, cost of sales and overheads). These are used to find your bottom line figure – either your net profit or your net loss.

What is a profit and loss account used for?

The profits shown in your profit and loss account are used to calculate both income tax and corporation tax. Failure to file either of these correctly can result in you paying added interest and penalties, so it’s important to get this report right.

The P&L account takes revenues into account for a specific period. It also records any expenses or costs incurred by these revenues, such as depreciation and taxes.

This can be used to show investors and other interested parties whether or not the company made money during the period being reported.

Why You Need to Prepare a P&L Statement?

  • Make Wiser Decisions

If you have your P&L statement on hand, you are able to look back on it to review how well your company fared over a chosen period of time. With the results in mind, you will then be able to make better financial decisions, as you’re armed with concrete knowledge of how your business is doing in terms of revenue and expenses. Provided that the numbers aren’t in the red, you will be able to invest money back into your business and make decisions that would have otherwise required dangerous guesswork.

  • Monitor your Business

Preparing a profit and loss statement and reviewing it regularly will give you insight into areas of the business where you are making money (or losing money). It will also provide you with where you are spending your money which can help you determine where you may be able to cut costs.

  • Have Proof of Your Business’ Success

Having your P&L statements on paper means that you’re able to show a chronological record of how well your business has been doing over the course of its operation, allowing you to play your cards right around investors, or with buyers if you have the intention of selling the business. It also serves as a measure of trust, as it may be requested by any new clients who wish to do business with you.

  • Prepares You to File Taxes

If you regularly update your P&L statements (as well as your other financial statements), you’ll have all the information you need for sorting out your business taxes when the day inevitably arrives. Updated financial statements also mean that your accounting software is also being regularly updated.

How to read Profit and Loss Report

P&L

If we want to understand a company report, we need to know what all the income, expense and profit figures mean. The Profit and Loss Statement is explained as follows:

  • Income

Add all income from sales for the period the profit and loss statement includes whether or not you’ve received payment for the sale. We might sometimes see this figure broken down into revenues from continuing operations and revenues from new business, which is a useful way of comparing like with like for a company that is expanding into new businesses or disposing of old ones — we can use the breakdown to help see how its core business is performing year-on-year. And different companies might show slightly different breakdowns, but we’ll always see a figure for total revenues.

  • Cost of sales

These are all costs directly associated with the sales mentioned above. They may include the cost of the product purchased and wages for people making the product. For example, if you are a consultancy, your cost of sales might include Advertising, Freelancer or sub-contractors etc.

  • Gross profit

Gross profit is simply the difference between your sales and cost of sales.
The gross profit margin is probably one of the most important figures to the business owner and manager. It shows the sales mark-up and can therefore highlight inefficiencies and pricing issues.

  • Expenses

Expenses or overheads are all other costs you’ve received invoices for during the period. These may include:

  • Rent and rates
  • Professional fees, such as legal and accountants
  • Advertisement
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Vehicle costs such as fuel and maintenance
  • Technology and computer costs
  • Office staff salaries, national insurance, pensions, and bonuses
  • Stationery and postage
  • Utility costs such as heating, water, gas, and electricity
  • Depreciation: This line is an accounting adjustment and not directly used for tax calculation purposes. Depreciation represents the periodic, scheduled conversion of a fixed asset into an expense as the asset is used during normal business operations. Since the asset is part of normal business operations, depreciation is considered an operating expense.
  • Profit before tax and interest

This calculation is an indicator of a company’s profitability. By ignoring taxes and interest expense, it focuses solely on a company’s ability to generate earnings from operations, ignoring variables such as the tax burden and capital structure.

  • Interest

This entry summarizes interest and bank charges paid from your business within the accounting period.

  • Tax

Tax will be the estimated amount of corporation tax on the business

  • Net Profit or Loss

And finally, the net result is what’s left. It’s a calculation of all income less all expenses and purchases less interest and tax paid providing your overall profit or loss in the period of the accounts.

Interpreting and understanding the profit and loss account

If your business is fairly consistent, look for comparisons with previous years. If there are any deviations from the general trend, ask yourself if you are able to explain them.

Also, look for comparisons with your competitors and the industry the business operates in.

Ultimately, the profit and loss account should tell a story of what has happened during the year, so you as the business owner/manager are best placed to make sure the profit and loss account shows a true reflection of this ‘story.’

Your bookkeeper can help you to understand and interpret the figures in the profit and loss account and can highlight the areas that may require further investigation. They will also be able to identify any ‘anomalies’ which might trigger the attention of HM Revenue & Customs, such as a large increase in the cost of repairs or a dramatic downturn in drawings. If you need any help with interpreting your Profit and Loss Statement, we at Cloudit Bookkeeping, will be happy to assist you.

The Credit Control Revolution

 

One of the most awkward and uncomfortable situations in business is having to remind clients about late payments on your invoices. Even harder is trying to respectfully request immediate payment without the conflict associated with adding late payment charges.

Credit control is another name for ‘getting the money you’re owed’. Not many businesses have a formal credit control process when they start out. However, each business should consider whether it is doing everything it can to ensure that its customers are paying on time. Furthermore, the recovery of business debt can be frustrating, time consuming and often unsuccessful. This then effects the business cash flow and the accountant asking questions about the recoverability of debts.

The introduction of cloud technology has made it possible to move forward in the management of credit control. Through up to date information and clever technology, the process has become much more streamlined, automated and productive. The features both within the accounting packages and also specific apps help businesses take back control of their debtors with positive results on their cash flow.

Easy Invoicing

If you use cloud based accounting software like Xero, it makes keeping your invoices up to date very easy. Through using your customized invoices and saved templates, issuing invoices has become a relatively quick and easy process. You can also invoice using your Xero mobile app keeping up to date when you are out and about!

You can simply email your invoices directly from Xero and the customer receives it immediately in their inbox. You will no longer have to push this task to end of the month or incur any postage costs.

In Xero, you can customize the look of your invoice by using invoice templates. You can edit the default templates or create new ones. You can also set up branding themes for your invoices so you can select the one relevant to the customer you are sending it to. For Instance, by using the DOCX custom templates you can create up to 15 branding themes which opens to a wide range of invoicing options.

Payment services

The more ways you give your customers to pay you, the more likely it is that they will pay you, and the less time you’ll spend chasing the payment. Add a payment service to your online invoice and your customer can pay it with just a few clicks.

Payment services in Xero allows you to accept the payments online. When the customer views the invoice, they can use the “Pay now” button to pay you securely using your payment service.

When the customer makes an online payment via their Xero invoice, the payment service used will take the payment and deposit it into your bank account.

You can set multiple payment modes giving your customer a choice and making it easy and accessible to them. Getting paid is easy with a range of payment services that seamlessly integrate with Xero, including PayPalStripe and GoCardless. You can find more payment providers in the Xero app marketplace.

Advanced reporting

Through regular invoicing you can keep your sales ledger up to date whilst having the ability to run an Aged debtors analysis at any time with ease. With the advanced reporting available in Xero you can quickly identify customers with outstanding invoices, and you can go through the details of the customer accounts and see where action is required.

The Aged receivables report in Xero allows you to select the “as at” date which will report the outstanding transactions at that specific date. This therefore will give you a clear overview of who owes the business and how much at any time.

Reminders

Instead of you spending hours chasing overdue payments, Xero can send automated invoice reminders for you. All you have to decide is when and how often the reminders are sent out, like setting a reminder to email customer when an invoice is 7 days overdue or 21 days overdue etc. You can also see whether your customer has seen an invoice and if it’s been paid.

Xero have created templates with suggested wording for the reminders, but you can change these if required and also can add other information such as details about preferred payment solutions and links to the invoice PDF. You need the adviser or standard user role to set up and turn on invoice reminders for your organization.

Once invoice reminders are turned on, Xero’s default reminders are sent at 7, 14 and 21 days after each invoice due date (overdue). You can also add a reminder that’s sent to your customers before an invoice is due. Specify the number of days before the due date that you’d like it sent.

Xero approved debt management apps

There are an increasing number of apps that link with Xero to automate and improve your credit control, letting you get paid faster and saving you time. The fact that you do not have to chase all your customers and you do not have to use the same templates for them all means that the business remains in your control at all time. Apps like Fluidly, Chaser, Debtor Daddy, Satago helps you to manage debt collection and ensures that you remain in full control of the process.

In addition to automatically sending your email chasers, some of these apps also offer a credit control CRM to automatically log all emails and replies. In addition to this, some apps can provide you data-driven insights into your credit control function, to help understand which customers are good payers, which are bad, and to help you better decide who to grant credit to.


The use of cloud software has revolutionized the Credit control management. Online invoicing, automated reminders and up to date ledgers which means that the whole debt collection process is much simpler, faster and less painful for business owners. The outcome speaks for themselves with cash flow improved and more time available to dedicate on growing and developing the business. If you need any help regarding the credit control management, talk to one of our trained bookkeepers and we will be happy to assist you.

App of the week – GoCardless

GoCardless is the easy way to collect Direct Debit Payments.

GoCardless allows you to take control of your payments, ensuring your invoices get paid on time, every time via Direct Debit. With automatic reconciliation in Xero, GoCardless improves your cash flow and reduces your admin.

Once your business has connected its Xero and GoCardless accounts, and has obtained direct debit authorities from its customers, payments are automatically collected by GoCardless and the transactions marked as paid within Xero.

Why we love GoCardless:

  • Improved cash flow – automatically collect payment for any Xero invoice on the due date, whether recurring or ad hoc.
  • Reduced admin – be more productive. Spend less time chasing unpaid bills and manually reconciling payments.
  • Happier customers – make payment hassle-free. Set up once to pre-authorize future payment collection so you can focus on business.
  • Integrated with Xero – fully synchronized with Xero to collect payments and automatically reconcile against your invoices.
  • Quick and simple set-up – get started in minutes with a simple set-up.
  • Low, transparent fees – no set up costs, hidden fees or charges for failed payments. GoCardless charges a 1% transaction fee, with a minimum of 20p and a maximum of £2. This makes it cheaper than credit card transactions, which typically cost around 2% with no ceiling.
  • Currency options – collect payments in British Pounds, Euros, Australian and New Zealand Dollars, Canadian Dollars.

How it works with Xero

The GoCardless payment service lets you set up direct debit with your customers to automatically collect payments for your Xero invoices.


Getting started with GoCardless for Xero in 5 steps

Connect your account

Get started in minutes by connecting your GoCardless and Xero accounts to the GoCardless for Xero app. See and manage all your GoCardless payments in one place.

Set up your customers

Your Xero customer data will be automatically synced so you can send out Direct Debit mandate requests via email. If you prefer, you can manually select customer records to send mandate requests to. The online mandates take seconds for your customers to complete. You can even add a link to your website or engagement letter.

Add a pay now button to your invoices

Get paid on time by enabling your customers to set up a Direct Debit mandate with you straight from the invoice. Add a pay now button to your invoices so customers can pay for recurring and one-off payments by direct debit.

Start collecting payments

Each time you create an invoice in Xero you can collect the payment automatically by Direct Debit on the invoice due date. Alternatively, you can manually collect payments for specific customers or by Xero branding themes.

Automatically reconcile invoices

Once you’ve received a payment, the relevant invoice(s) will be marked as paid. Xero records the GoCardless fee posted as an expense automatically.


We enjoy automation and making life easier is every way possible. And GoCardless adds to the smooth sales and payment collection process. For more specialist advice –  talk to our expert bookkeepers.

 

 

 

Bank Rules in Xero

Why are bank rules so important?

Because the secret to speed up the bank reconciliation process is automation. And bank rules are the key to automating a lot of the work when reconciling the bank account in Xero.

What are bank rules:

The better your rules, the fewer transactions you need to code yourself.

Bank rule is based on the preset parameters. This means if X happens, then code this transaction to Y account. For example, you might have a rule that anytime you are charged the bank fee on your account this transaction is coded to Bank Charges account in Xero.

This saves you typing in the information in the reconciliation screen every time there is a bank fee on your bank statement. Bank rules suggest a new transaction for you with preset contact name, analysis account, description and amount.

When to use bank rules:

Bank Rule transactions are best used for transactions that automatically come out of your bank account (i.e. which you don’t need to physically pay) or the really small things like parking or regular subscription.  Set up bank rules for your regular transactions such as:

  • Wages
  • Equipment Lease
  • Bank Fees
  • Merchant Fees
  • Interest
  • Monthly Insurance
  • Monthly business rates
  • Pension payments
  • Transfers to savings account

There are three types of transactions that bank rules can be created for in Xero:

  1. Spend money transactions
  2. Receive money transactions
  3. Transfers of money between accounts.

bank rules 1

All are set up in the same way and all can save you time and help ensure a consistent approach each month to the reconciliations.

How to create a bank rule:

You can create bank rule either from the bank account page, from the bank reconciliation or from the cash coding page. You can also create bank rule from the Bank rules screen from the Accounts menu by selecting the Bank Account to make a more complex rule with multiple conditions.

The first step in creating bank rule is to select whether it is a spend money, receive money or transfer of money transaction

The ‘Create bank rule’ screen has seven sections in it.

Xero bank rules

1. Every bank rule must have at least one condition, but you can add as many as you need to build the rule.

  • The condition line asks for ALL or ANY of the conditions apply. ALL is used if the rule should apply only when every condition is met, and ANY is used if the rule can be applied when at least one of the conditions are met.

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  • Then you can select an individual text field, such as Payee, Description, Analysis Code and Xero will apply the rule if that particular condition is met. If you select the ‘Any text field’, Xero will search the Payee, Description, Reference and Analysis Code fields on the bank statement line and apply the rule if one of the fields meets the condition.
  • The next condition field allows you to select one comparison option from the below:

 

Equals

Apply the rule if the value in the selected text field exactly matches

Contains Apply the rule if the selected text field contains the value entered
Starts with Apply the rule if the selected text field in the bank statement line starts exactly the same as the value entered
Is blank Apply the rule if the selected text field in the bank statement line Is blank.

The comparison options are linked with the value(s) given in the next box. For the options equals, contains or starts with, enter the relevant value(s) to meet the condition. For example, for the condition below, the bank rule would be applied if the Payee name and Description equals the values given.

bank rules 1

If you create a bank rule when you’re reconciling or cash coding, Xero will automatically add conditions based on the statement line, using an ‘equals’ comparison. Any conditions that you add will also use information from the statement line if possible.

2. The next section allows you to set a contact which can be the Payee, an existing or new contact, entered during reconciliation. If you want to group common items under one name instead of creating a new supplier for each entry, you can create a new contact to group them like all the transaction related to Parking expenses should go under the name ‘Parking’.

3. The third section is allocating fixed value line items. This section is optional.

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4. The next section is to allocate items in the required ratios. Here you must enter a description, account name, VAT rate and the percentage of the total value to be allocated to that account. If you want to allocate the total amount into two different accounts, you can always add a new line and divide the percentage accordingly.

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5. The fifth section is to set the reference. This can be selected from the drop-down box according to your requirement.

6. The sixth section is to set a target bank account on which you want to run the rule. You can also set up this rule to multiple bank accounts, so that you don’t have to create the same rule for each bank account.

7. The last step is to give the rule a title.

Click on the Save option and your bank rule is saved and from now, whenever Xero detects a payment that meets the conditions, it applies the rule automatically. All you have to do is to click ‘OK’ on the bank reconciliation page.

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What happens when you edit or delete a bank rule?

Editing:

By editing a bank rule, you can change any of the details you have entered at the time of creating it. You can either edit a bank rule while reconciling or from the Bank Rules screen. Editing a bank rule doesn’t affect any of the transactions you’ve reconciled with that rule previously.

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Deleting:

You can always delete a bank rule you no longer require by selecting it from the bank rules page in bank accounts. Deleting a bank rule doesn’t affect any of the transactions you’ve reconciled with that rule previously.

Bank rules is just one of many features you will find within Xero which makes your accounting process smoother, faster and more consistent. If you need any help setting up bank rules or other Xero features, talk to one of our trained bookkeepers and we will be happy to assist you.

Making Tax Digital for VAT made easy with Xero

If you are already using Xero or looking for software to help you file your VAT returns Xero is now ready for MTD.

Here is their short flyer for more information: Making Tax Digital for VAT made easy

How does Making Tax Digital for VAT affect you

HMRC have release this short video regarding Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTD) and how it will affect businesses with taxable turnover over £85,000.

To ensure you are ready to keep and file your VAT returns electornically starting from April 2019, we advise to set up your systems in advance. We are huge fans of Xero online accounting package which is MTD ready. Start this January and you will have enough time to get used to software and test it.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Reconciling Bank Transactions in Xero

Xero is cool and easy to use cloud-based accounting software designed for small and medium-sized businesses. However mistakes can occur and carelessness can result in many hours of wasted time trying to locate the error and rectifying it. Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes in bank reconciliation and how they can be avoided.

1. Trusting bank feed 100%

Direct bank feeds are amazing and most of the time we do not have any errors as they work perfectly. However, it can happen that there is a break in the feed and a day or more are missed, especially if you don’t reconnect the bank feed in good time. This will result in unrecorded expenses or customer payments unasigned to their invoice which you want to chase. Sometimes bank lines can be duplicated, for example on a credit card feed or bank feed where the transactions comes in on the day of the purchase and on the day it has cleared the account. If you reconcile all of these you will end up with double income and expenses in your accounts. To make sure everything is in order, regularly check your actual bank account balance with the running bank balance in Xero. If this does not match, you will need to compare your bank statements with Xero to find what is missing or imported twice.

bank balance

2. Paying invoices/bills

When marking sales invoices as paid in sales module or purchase invoices in purchases module, some users mistakenly record payment to/from the wrong bank account. This will cause reconciliation problems later on, as the invoice will not be available to assign bank payment against. To avoid this, always double check the selected bank account in the drop down menu when paying the invoice. Always run reconciliation report to check for anything out of place.

paying invoice

3. Bills to be paid vs reconciliations

When entering bills that need to be paid in Purchases section, some users tend to forget to mark them as paid. Instead they enter the expense again in the bank reconciliation section. Often payments are made direct from the bank or credit card but the bill entered is not being marked as paid. The result is a new transaction being recorded and expense or income duplicated in the accounts. If you are paying a bill that is already entered in Xero, you must be on the Match screen. Only use the Create screen when you are entering a new expense that isn’t already on the system and be consistent.bank match

4. Using ‘Unreconcile’ when you’ve made a mistake

When correcting entered and reconciled bank transaction selecting ‘unreconcile’ doesn’t reverse the error. The coded transaction sits in the bank account as an unreconciled item. This can cause doubled up transactions in your final bank reconciliation. Always select ‘Remove and Redo’ to clear the reconciled line and the transaction.

5. Making transfers between two bank accounts

When recording a transfer between two bank accounts, users tend to code it as a transfer in both accounts, which results in unreconciled transactions in both.  This gives you the wrong bank balance, if not corrected. To avoid this, record the transfer in one bank account. Xero will create the corresponding transaction in the second bank account. All you need to do is go to the second bank account reconciliation screen and match the Xero created transfer transaction.

bank transfer