Accounting top tips for small business owners to end 2020 in good shape.

accounting top tips

The life of a business owner is filled with ups and downs, and while this year may have seemed to have quite a few downs, there’s still time to round of these twelve months on an upward trajectory with our accounting top tips that will help you increase your potential for success while avoiding unnecessary mistakes…

  • Separate your personal and business finances:

Becoming a small business owner will inevitably bring about a few changes to your everyday life. As an employee, your income and other funds will be held in a personal account, whereas being a company owner will bring business-based finances into the mix. Opening a new bank account for your business transactions is essential for organisation and preventing an abundance of stress when the tax deadline comes around. Every financial aspect of running a small business will be more difficult if you fail to separate your accounts. Invoicing, tax forms and bookkeeping will all become a bit of a nightmare if you have to search through hundreds of personal transactions to find a particular piece of business.

  • Maintain neat and accurate accounts:

When it comes to the accounts of your business, untidiness can have serious ramifications. Efficient bookkeeping not only makes day-to-day tasks more fluent and easier to handle, but larger-scale financial tasks will also be less stressful to organise. If you’re a one-man operation or smaller company, you may well manage your finances in-house. Doing so may save you a small amount of money, but if organisation isn’t your forte, you’ll soon have a problem.

  • Recruit a tax accountant for small business:

Small businesses tend to work with a tighter budget and are less inclined to pay for additional services. But in reality, the assistance of a tax accountant for small business can save you money in the long run. A small business accountant has the skills and know-how to organise your accounts efficiently, not to mention the familiarity with small companies and all of the issues that can occur. While your tax accountant for small business is hard at work, you have more free time to spend on other crucial aspects of running a company.

  • Be aware of tax deadlines and stick to them:

A looming tax deadline can be quite stressful, to say the least! Tax forms that have been filled out incorrectly or missed the deadline altogether will result in late fees and fines, neither of which are good news for a small business with a tight budget. Also, the longer it takes you to send your tax return (after deadline), the more it costs, due to the delight of daily charges. Again, this is where a tax accountant for small business comes in handy. They certainly won’t miss the deadline and you can be sure that your tax return will arrive at HMRC as a well-organised, accurate depiction of the accounts of your business.

  • Embrace accounting software:

Accounting software provides the ideal digital tool to keep your incomings, outgoings and taxes organised. The user-friendly nature of the software is also perfect for business owners who are a little less tech-savvy. If you already have a small business accountant, using accounting software in tandem is an ideal way to save them the job of tidying up your mess, leaving them more free time to focus on other financial aspects that could potentially increase your profits.

These accounting tips aren’t complicated and don’t require a lot of effort to take on board, but they are no less vital to the success of your business. The benefits of organised books, the genius of accounting software and the peace of mind provided by a small business accountant are all points you should consider and apply to your life as a business owner.

If you feel that these accounting top tips aren’t enough and you need more accountancy support then do not delay in contacting us at DNA Accountants, we are here to make sure you get on with what you do best, while we take care of the boring stuff. We can also make sure your money is working for you by assessing your tax efficiency. Get in touch and we’ll make your income work smarter for you.

DNA Accountants

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Think you might have overclaimed on Furlough Scheme? What to do next…


HMRC has published new guidance which explains what steps it will take to recover furlough payments that have been wrongly claimed.

HMRC accepts that ‘mistakes happen’ and says that it isn’t looking for ‘innocent errors’. Instead, it is going to focus on those organisations that have deliberately not complied with the scheme and have made fraudulent claims. However, it expects all organisations who have been overpaid to contact them and repay what they owe.

How to notify HMRC that you’ve been overpaid:

If you are still claiming furlough grants, you can notify HMRC when you submit your next claim about errors. Otherwise, you have to notify them within a certain amount of time to avoid incurring penalties.

The time limits are the latest of:

  • 90 days after you receive the furlough grant you’re not entitled to
  • 90 days after the day circumstances changed so that you were no longer entitled to keep the furough grant
  • 20 October 2020

Income tax charges:

HMRC can recover overpayments by making a tax assessment. The assessment is equal to the amount you’ve overclaimed including any amounts that you have not used to pay furloughed employee wages and associated costs. Payment is due 30 days after the assessment and interest is charged on late payments. It can also charge late payment penalties if the amount remains unpaid 31 days after the due date.


If you don’t notify HMRC on time, you may have to pay a penalty in addition to repaying the debt. HMRC will consider whether you knew you were entitled to the furlough grant when you received it, or you knew when it became repayable or chargeable to tax because your circumstances changed.

If you knew you were not entitled to your grant when you received it, or knew when you had stopped being entitled to it, and didn’t tell HMRC in the notification period then the law treats your failure as deliberate and concealed. This means a penalty of up to 100% could be charged on what you owe.
If HMRC believe that you acted deliberately and concealed what you have done, it may treat you as a ‘deliberate defaulter’ and could publish your name, address and other information about you here. Information about the circumstances in which HMRC names and shames defaulters is available in this factsheet.

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The Job Retention Bonus Scheme Explained…

Job Retention Bonus Scheme

With the Furlough Scheme coming to an end, HMRC has outlined the eligibility requirements for the Job Retention Bonus Scheme that will follow Furlough as part of the government’s measures to support the economy as we ease into the next phase of lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020 and the Job Retention Bonusaims to provide additional support to employers who keep on their furloughed employees in meaningful employment.

The Job Retention Bonus is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the Furlough Scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021. Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between the 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021.

All employers are eligible for the scheme including recruitment agencies and umbrella companies. They should ensure that they have complied with their obligations to pay and file PAYE accurately and on time under the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting system, maintained enrolment for PAYE online and have a UK bank account.

Employers will be able to claim for employees who were furloughed and had a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim submitted for them that meets all relevant eligibility criteria for the scheme.

All Employers taking part in the Job Retention Bonus Scheme must have up-to-date RTI records for the period to the end of January and not be serving a contractual or statutory notice period, that started before 1 February 2021, for the employer making a claim.

HMRC will publish further details about this process before the end of September 2020 and we will keep you posted as things progress.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you and your business get back to a new form of normal then we’d be happy to help.

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Top tips to ensure you keep your eye on the fine financial details of your business…

Top tips to ensure you keep your eye on the fine financial details of your business…

Now, more than at any other time, knowing the state of your business finances inside out, is more important than ever and it could be the key to surviving this pandemic, and any subsequent economic downturn. So we have pulled together some top tips to ensure you keep your eye on the fine financial details to stop you getting into hot water…

Manage the day-to-day:

Hire a good bookkeeper or purchase DIY accounting software. It is crucial that you keep accurate track of your income and costs.

Keep track of all of your small business expenses. These can add up quickly, but reviewing them allows you to fine-tune where your money goes.

Having clear financial projections is important. Your main business plan will help you to anticipate and address possible future obstacles.

Consider using an app for expenses. Mobile apps make it easier to keep track of what’s going on with your expenses without too much effort.

Send out invoices as soon as possible after providing goods or services.

Separate your accounts

Keep a separate business bank account. Mixing business money with your personal finances is a recipe for unexplained losses and tax-headaches.

Make sure to pay yourself first. This doesn’t mean sucking up all the profit the moment you make it; start with 10% of the earnings. This is a good way to set aside money consistently and to test the profitability of your business. It also provides a safety net for unexpected expenses.

Even though you pay yourself, don’t get sucked up in the benefits of business ownership even if you can afford it. Set your salary as low as possible and offer government-mandated benefits only. What you save now will give you more flexibility in future lean months.

Look at the bigger picture:

See if you can save on utilities. It’s easy to become lazy when it comes to energy or Internet providers, but periodically reviewing your contracts and comparing alternative options will save you from the so-called loyalty penalty – that is, the extra money you’ll end up being charged if you always stick with the same provider.

Take care when expanding. Make sure expansion is done steadily and wisely. Pushing large amounts of money into expansions that are too quick and too drastic can be disastrous.

Consider renting instead of buying. Leasing equipment instead of buying helps you avoid maintenance costs and can also prevent you from overpaying on equipment only needed for a specific period of time. You could also consider renting your office space, as it makes relocation and expansion easier.

Don’t wait too long before seeking a loan. An easy mistake to make is waiting until your business is in financial trouble before applying for loans or other credit. This is exactly when you will be least likely to receive financing. Consider applying for a business loan when your financials are still in a good state. This way the loan can be used for expansion or as an emergency line of credit instead of rescue.

Make sure you have enough capital. Small businesses tend not to have enough capital to get themselves through the startup phase. To prevent this, have three months’ living expenses saved plus the amount you are expecting to need for the first three months’ business expenses. Plan as if you expect to receive no business revenue.

Check your business credit score. It may be preventing you to get top credit deals, so it’s worth checking it out and doing what you can to improve it.

Don’t make late repayments. Especially if you can avoid them. If you’re personally managing your business finances, it’s easy to make a mistake, but it can turn out more costly than you think.

If you feel that you some accountancy support then do not delay in contacting us at DNA Accountants, we are here to make sure you get on with what you do best, while we take care of the boring stuff. We can also make sure your money is working for you by assessing your tax efficiency. Get in touch and we’ll make your income work smarter for you.

DNA Accountants

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Help available for small businesses during the coronavirus crisis – A quick summary…

Help is available for small businesses during the coronavirus crisis - A quick summary...

Throughout the pandemic, the government have announced a number of measures to help small businesses cope with coronavirus, including support for those that need to pay statutory sick pay and changes to the benefits system to help employees on zero-hour contracts, here is a quick breakdown of what you may be able to benefit from…

Business loans:

The government is encouraging finance providers to continue lending to small businesses throughout the coronavirus crisis, via the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The funds are accessible via loans and other types of financial support though nearly 40 business lenders. If you think a loan could be the right solution to help keep your business ticking over throughout the crisis, you need to be aware that the market for business finance is moving fast – some lenders are asking for security, while others are pulling out of the small business market completely. The government has also announced the ‘bounce back’ loan scheme to give small business owners access to credit. Loans are available up to 25% of a businesses annual turnover and up to a maximum of £50,000. Crucially, it appears that there will be no viability check and the government has agreed to take on 100% of the default risk, which means there is no risk to the provider and arguably the biggest barrier to lending has been removed.

Help with tax and VAT:

If your business is having trouble paying any tax it owes because of coronavirus, call HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline on 0800 0159 559 to talk about Time to Pay support. If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. The government has also announced a VAT deferral scheme, which means no business will pay VAT between 20th March 2020, and 30th June 2020.

Business rates holiday:

The government has introduced a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. If your business paid discounted rates in the 2019 to 2020 tax year, you will be rebilled by your local authority as soon as possible.

Help with salaries:

The government has announced that it will pay grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers kept on by companies, up to a total of £2,500 per month, just above the median income. Known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers who can’t cover staff wages due to COVID-19 may be able to access support to continue paying part wages for staff. There’s still little detail available on how to access the scheme, but if you plan on applying you’ll need to classify your staff as furloughed workers, which you’ll be able to do once the online application form is up and running. Being a furloughed worker means employees are kept on the payroll, rather than being laid off, and they must not do ANY work for you during this time – this is really important as it will allow you to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You can make up the shortfall between this payment and your employees’ salaries, but you don’t have to. If you’re the director of a business and you pay yourself a salary through PAYE, you’ll also be able to claim this benefit, so long as you classify yourself as a furloughed worker and don’t do any work while claiming this benefit.

Sole traders and the self-employed:

The government has announced that it will be launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to pay self-employed business owners, including freelancers and sole traders, who don’t qualify for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which pays up to 80% of employees’ wages. The scheme will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average income over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month, for at least three months. The scheme will be open to business owners with an income of £50,000 or less, who make most of their income from self-employment, and will be based upon your previous three years’ tax returns to confirm income. If you only have one years’ worth of tax returns, this will be used to work out your income. It was initially thought that business owners who pay themselves via dividends would be eligible to apply, it seems this is no longer the case, as dividends aren’t regarded as income. It’s also possible that you won’t qualify if your income is a mixture of part-time income and self-employment, and you’ll not be eligible if anyone in your household earns more than £50,000. If, on the other hand, everyone in your household earns £49,000, you will all get full support. If your application is successful, another issue is that the money won’t be available until the start of June.

The welfare system has also been adjusted so that self-employed people can now access Universal Credit in full. For instance, a self-employed person with a non-working partner and two children, living in the social rented sector, can receive welfare support of around £1,800 per month. Anyone in this position is being urged to apply for any relevant benefits as soon as possible, including Universal Credit and any associated housing benefits, and look into business interruption loans or other financing options, including payment breaks and mortgage holidays.

These measures are open to change so we hope that what is currently available is helping you to keep your business running.

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Financial help for small businesses in the UK during COVID-19…

small business covid-19

A short video showing the financial help for small businesses being made available by the UK government during the pandemic. We hope this explains the assistance you may be able to receive…

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up to date with all relevant small business news relating to the government assistance process, as and when it becomes available.

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How to Prepare for the End of the Tax Year…

tax year

Going it alone and starting your own business can often be a bit of a culture shock! Terms that were not part of your everyday vocabulary, such as ‘tax year’, ‘financial years’ and ‘bookkeeping’, suddenly take on a whole new significance. When it comes to the financial admin of the business, as you may have already realised, is now all your responsibility.

Your aim as a business owner is to keep on top of everything, to ensure that you’re not bogged down in paperwork and you’re not involved in any last-minute scrambles to meet tax deadlines. Headaches are easily avoidable so long as you’re prepared. Here we focus on the end of the tax year, what it means for an up-and-coming business and how you should prepare for it.

So, what does ‘end of tax year’ actually mean? When you see the phrase ‘tax year’ this refers to the personal tax year, which runs from April 6- April 5 the following year. As a director of a company, the end of the personal tax year is very relevant, as all company directors must complete a personal tax return each year. It also takes account of any dividends you have received from the company, which are liable for income tax.

Staying organised and being prepared for the financial reporting milestones throughout the year will make your life as a business owner much easier.

The end of the tax year: how should I prepare?

Think of getting prepared as an ongoing process rather than something that has to be dealt with all in one go at the end of the tax year or when the payment deadline looms on the horizon. File your paperwork as it arrives (rather than having to sort through it from scratch at the end of the tax year). Self-employed business owners are taxed on their business profits after deductions for expenses. For this to be assessed accurately you need to be able to track each and every transaction your business is involved in. In the early days, these transactions may seem few in number. It is inevitable that invoices, statements and bills will mount up and the pile of unsorted paperwork is only going to get higher.


In the early days especially, a simple spreadsheet may be all that’s required to give you an at-a-glance overview on what’s happening with transactions. Allotting an hour or so a week to review this is useful not just from a tax perspective, but also for keeping on top of unpaid customer invoices to prevent storing up cash flow problems. As activity increases and bookkeeping starts to eat into more of your valuable time this may be your cue to invest in a dedicated invoicing and accounting software solution.


Get everything in place early to avoid losing your entitlement. Travel costs, using your home as an office, phone bills, overdrafts, capital allowances on equipment and even wining and dining prospective clients: don’t leave it until the first week in April to start thinking about how much you’ve actually spent on nurturing your business over the last year.

Cash basis accounting:

If your turnover is £150,000 or less you can choose to work out your income and expenses for your Self Assessment tax return through cash basis accounting. For this, you must keep records of all business income and expenses throughout the tax year. One benefit of this is that you are only taxed on income you have actually received during the tax year and not on invoices that have been issued but not yet paid.

Simplified expenses:

For business vehicle costs, working from home and living in your business premises, sole traders and partnerships can also use simplified expenses: a system of flat rates for calculating costs in these areas. Throughout the tax year record, your business miles and the hours you work at home and then at the end of the tax year apply these flat rates to work out your expenses.


Make sure you have a system in place for retaining receipts and logging transactions as they happen. Otherwise, you are at risk of under-calculating your business running costs.

As your business grows, as transactions become more complex and you consider taking on staff, expert accountancy advice can help save you money in the long run.

DNA Accountants

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Are you “Limited” in Business?

limited company

Business owners are often unsure about which entity to trade as – sole trader, partnership or limited company. Regardless of size, ownership structure, industry etc, generally there is no legal obligation to trade using a particular entity, but there are stark differences between them. And it is the impact of these differences that must be evaluated in order to decide which entity to trade as.

Hundreds of freelancers, contractors and small businesses decide to form a limited company every day in the UK. There are many reasons a sole trader or small business may choose to incorporate, here are the three main advantages of going Limited:

Liability: Limited liability basically means if your company goes bust, your personal property can’t be touched. Your maximum losses can only be up to what you put into the company in the first place – meaning you only stand to lose what you invested. Limited liability can become invalid if you act illegally though – so don’t do anything naughty!

Employability: Many clients – especially big corporates – will be more inclined to do business with limited companies. For them it means your payment is purely a business transaction and they avoid the muddy waters of PAYE and national insurance contributions. In fact, many large companies (usually financial institutions) refuse to do business with sole traders.

Profitability: As a sole trader, you’ll be taxed on your income. This means you’ll end up paying income tax and national insurance contributions on everything you earn. Once you get into the higher echelons of earning you could be seeing a significant chunk of your take-home pay being whisked away by the tax man. By operating through a limited company you will pay corporation tax, and can pay yourself through a combination of low wage (to minimise your PAYE and NIC outgoings) and dividends. This will result in less of your money going to HMRC, meaning more of it in your pocket.

But Wait…

Although forming a limited company can be a sensible and beneficial business move, it does come with certain duties that you, as a director, must perform.:

Duties of limited company directors

The Companies Act 2006 outlines the statutory duties of company directors as seven general duties;

  1. Duty to act within your powers as a company director
  2. Duty to promote the success of your company
  3. Duty to exercise independent judgement
  4. Duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence
  5. Duty to avoid conflicts of interest
  6. Duty not to accept benefits from third parties
  7. Duty to declare interest in proposed transaction or arrangement with the company

Financial responsibilities

As a company director, you have several accounting-related obligations, it is best to employ a good accountant to ensure that all tasks are carried out:

  • Keep good accounting records from which accounts can be prepared which give a true and fair representation of the financial position of the company.
  • You must submit accurate company accounts, and file them on time with Companies House.
  • You must submit your corporation tax return (Form CT600) to HMRC and pay any tax liabilities due.
  • You must deal with the correct payment of staff (and yourself) – including the deduction of income tax and national insurance contributions, where they apply.
  • You must trade solvently, ensuring that you are able to meet the financial liabilities of your business.

Legal responsibilities of company directors

  • You are responsible for completing and filing a Confirmation Statement every year.
  • To produce and maintain a register of Persons with Significant Control, the PSC Register must be filed, as part of the Confirmation Statement, with Companies House annually.
  • To submit forms to Companies House to notify of any changes in the particulars of company director(s) or company secretary.
  • Notify Companies House if you change your registered company address.
  • You must always act in the interests of the company shareholders. This means that the directors cannot enrich themselves in a way that damages the company.

If this all seems like too much to get your head around then get in touch, we can set you in the right direction as Director of your limited company and we’re always happy to talk business.

DNA Accountants

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The tax deadline is looming…

tax deadline

….we all know that businesses need to pay tax, but how many sole traders and small businesses are actually properly advised on what they should be paying? If you’re trading as a sole trader or partnership you are eligible to pay (how much you actually pay is a whole other ball game!!) Income Tax and National Insurance, some businesses will be required to charge VAT on their sales too.

Sole traders must complete a Self-Employment tax return at the end of each tax year. The return allows you to provide details of your business’ income and expenses. This information is used to work out how much Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions you have to pay. 

Here are the basics…

– Self-employment/self-assessment return

The UK’s VAT registration threshold (above which persons making taxable supplies are required to register and account for VAT) is currently set at £85,000, although businesses can opt to register voluntarily if their taxable turnover is below this.

All you need to provide on the relevant pages of your tax return are:

– Details of your turnover

The total allowable business expenses, rather than a breakdown of each expense, net profit or loss, details of any adjustments, allowances or losses

If you prefer, you can still give a fuller breakdown of all your expenses in the relevant boxes on your tax return. Businesses below the VAT registration threshold can also use cash accounting so turnover and expenses will be cash received and payments made in the period.

– Tax and NIC liability

After deducting the personal allowance (in 2019/20 this is £12,500), profits from self-employment are paid as income tax at the basic rate of 20% on your taxable earned income that falls within the basic rate band. The basic rate band for 2019/20 is £37,500. If you have taxable earned income that exceeds the basic rate limit, you have to pay more tax.

There are two classes of National Insurance Contributions (NIC) for the self-employed. The first (called Class 2) starts at profits of £6,365 and is £3.00 per week. Class 4 NIC starts at profits of £8,632 and is payable at 9% up to profits of £50,000, 385 when Class 4 drops to 2%.

– Payment of Tax

Self-assessment payments are due by 31 January and 31 July each year. For the business profits in 2019/20 tax year (accounting periods ending by April 5, 2020) the first payment on account is due by January 31, 2020, the second payment is due by July 31, 2020 and any balance must be paid by January 31, 2021. Failure to make these deadlines will result in interest being charged.

If you feel that you are out of your depth making these returns on your own, then do not delay in contacting us at DNA Accountants, we are here to make sure you get on with what you do best, while we take care of the boring stuff. We can also make sure your money is working for you by assessing your tax efficiency. Get in touch and we’ll make your income work smarter for you.

DNA Accountants

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How To Pick The Perfect Business Name – Don’t Over Think It…

business name

What is the most difficult element of starting your business?
Coming up with the concept, writing a business plan, raising funding? No!!! it’s how to pick the perfect business name. Get it right and people will instantly remember you, get it wrong and you can give yourself a bit of a headache.

The main factors in choosing your business name are, don’t overthink it, just go with these 3 rules:

– Is it easily understood – if you have to explain that little play on words then it’s just not working.
– Can it be clearly pronounced – will people misinterpret what you are trying to say.
– Does it stick in your mind – if someone just gets a glance of the name on a van as it drives down the road, is it memorable?

Once you’ve dealt with those points it’s time to get creative. You could go with an alternative/abstract name, like Xero the accountancy software people (It’s pronounced Zero), this way you are more likely to get the domain name to match without compromising and it’s less likely you have someone else trading under the same name.

Alternatively, there is the informative name, it basically does what it says on the tin. If you are John Smith the Baker, then people know who you are, what you do and it’s easy to remember, but on the other hand, you may not be unique (sorry to break that to you!!).

Then finally we have phrases, they flow naturally, become good branding, become your slogan and are memorable. Without breaking into song, a prime example would be “Go Compare” – it may be annoying as hell, but we all know about it.

If you are really struggling there are tools available online to help and give you that little bit of extra help:

Finally, when you have made a decision, road test it on family, friends, webcheck it on Companies House to make sure it’s not already in use, look for your domain name and once you are comfortable go ahead and get started.


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