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About Nicola Thomas

Nicola Thomas is an accounting professional of over 20 years.

What Does A Bookkeeper Actually Do?

bookkeeping imageBookkeepers should be accurate, efficient and knowledgeable. A bookkeeper’s role will be different depending on the size and type of your business.

Put simply – a good bookkeeper will accurately maintain the financial records for your business in an efficient manner in a way that you may not have the knowledge or the time to do properly yourself.

A bookkeeper would work closely with your accountant providing him/her with a finished complete “set of books” at the end of your accounting year so that the accountant can prepare your accounts with confidence.

This is their job, they do it every day. A good bookkeeper will also ensure that you are compliant with the many rules and regulations that apply to running your business. Rules change every budget, good bookkeepers make it their business to keep up with rules and regulations and keep their professional knowledge up to date.

A bookkeeper will use your “books” to prepare your VAT returns (where appropriate) and ensure that you are claiming everything you can within the law.

richard bookkeepingA bookkeeper will manage your cash, reconcile your bank transactions, ensure you have been paid for invoices issued and categorise all of your capital and revenue costs in the right place. This will free you to concentrate on what you do best, running your business.

Another benefit you could find is that because they have other clients in many fields they will have some knowledge on the pricing of things like insurance and banking or other common items and could save you money in these areas as well.

At CC Associates we are members of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and the Association of Accounting Technicians, we are regulated and monitored to ensure our knowledge is kept up to date. We provide bookkeeping services for many clients on a monthly, quarterly or even weekly basis.

Contact us for a free consultation and see how we can help you.

Tel 01656 729488
Email: nic@ccassociates.info

Why do I need a Bookkeeper in 2016?

calculator-1044172_1920As recently as 10-15 years ago, as a small business you would most likely picture your Bookkeeper as someone writing in great big hardback A3 ledgers, in various colour pens, whilst furiously tapping away on their calculator, excitedly shouting “I balanced it” at various points through the day.

Today’s computer environment has changed all that, and although we have clients who still keep what we class as “manual” records, we very rarely see “The Books” these days. More frequently, we see bookkeeping records kept using spreadsheets, or other computer generated documents.

With the sudden and rapid evolution of computers, almost everyone now uses their computer more and more, so it is a natural progression that you would want to keep your records yourself.  This sounds like a good idea in principal, not only from a cost saving point of view, but it also gives you a much better understanding of the financial position of your business if you keep on top of the numbers yourself.

All good ideas come with drawbacks though, and it’s worth considering the following points if you already keep your own books, or are thinking about starting to do so.

1. How much time are you spending doing the record keeping?

You are probably either adding to the time you actually spend at work / home carrying out this work, or you are not doing the other jobs in the business that you could be doing in the time spent on the books; maybe bringing in extra sales, training staff etc. Every hour really adds up!

It’s also likely that a good bookkeeper will prepare your records in an accurate and precise fashion, in a fraction of the time it will take you, as your expertise will lie elsewhere in the business.

2. Are you bookkeeping in a format that is going to be useful to your accountant at year end to produce the accounts?

You may well keep a great record from your perspective, but what your accountant may actually need may be totally different. This could mean that they have to re-do the work anyway, and you will be charged more than you would have paid in the first place.

3. Are you confident that you know what you can and can’t claim for, and how to treat certain unusual items?

It’s considered that a Bookkeeper in their professional capacity would have good up to date knowledge as legislation changes etc, and would be offering you their experience and knowledge as well as just doing the number crunching.

4. Do you know what to do with the numbers, after you add them up?

Getting the numbers down and adding them up is one thing, but now do you actually know how to interpret them, and use them in your business to increase your profits? Can you tell if there are patterns and trends emerging that could assist your business growth? A good bookkeeper will naturally see these things as they happen, and bring them to your attention as part of their role.

In a nutshell, not employing a bookkeeper could be costing you more than you think in time, effort and unnecessary mistakes.

We have combined experience of over 80 years in this area, and we can look after your bookkeeping. We will not only crunch the numbers, but provide you with a first class level of professional service, pointing out the things you wouldn’t think to ask about.  We will assist your day to day running of the business and increase your profitability. And we are far less expensive than you may think! If you would like us to come and see you for a free, no obligation overview of your current bookkeeping process, just get in touch.

nic@ccassociates.info

Tel: 01656 729488

CC Associates joins British Forces Discounts

BFD

CC Associates is very proud to announce that we are partnering with British Forces Discounts to provide a special offer to those who have served our country. We realise that those who were in the forces have some very unique tax needs, so we want to give back by doing our best to make their financial transition easy and affordable.

We have some very close ties to those who have served, and want you to know that we really do understand the needs and stresses that are associated with this process. My husband, Paul Thomas, was a paratrooper for 22 years before he made the transition from being in the forces to working as a civilian. Let me share with you his struggles in his own words:

“After 22 years military service I took up a management position within the Corporate Security Sector in the Middle East. Within a few months it became apparent to me that my personal tax situation was going to be a problem – and would become more of a problem the longer I left it un-addressed… Nicola, my partner, put me straight and because of her doing so I was rewarded with a substantial refund (and huge peace of mind). It wasn’t long before more members of the team were making enquiries, which Nicola sorted out.”

Providing help to those who were formerly in the military is one of the greatest honours we can imagine, and now that we can officially help at a discount excites us and makes us hope for great things to come. Our expertise in accounting and tax services can bring financial peace to ex-forces and their families in a way that lets them know that we are truly thankful.

The discount we are offering is for all of the armed forces: the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force. All men and women who are former military have the option for a lifetime 25% off on all of our billable services, in addition to a free initial consultation to help us understand your specific needs. We also extend the option for you to refer a friend, and when they use our services you receive a £50 cash bonus.

If you are an ex-forces member and you are struggling with adjusting to your civilian finances, please contact us today so we can find the best way to help you. Let us set up you your free consultation and help you reach financial security. We are eager to give back in this special way!

How To Lower Your Tax Bill

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a big deadline looming for most businesses and those of you who are self employed or need to complete a tax return for another reason, for example, you have pension or rental income.  The 31st of January brings with it a lot of stress for many because of the tax deadline. It also brings lots of questions with It – questions like: “Can I claim tax relief on dog shampoo?” followed by “Why can’t I claim tax relief on dog shampoo against my mechanic’s business?”

After all of those other questions boil away, we often get, “How CAN you lower your tax bill?” The answer is both simple and complex at the same time! Let’s go through and take a look at some of the biggest things you can do, both right now to lower this year’s tax  bill and throughout the year to pay less in the coming years.

  1. Keep proper detailed records. You will be surprised at the tax savings you can make just by being organised , particularly keeping record of small cash expenses. It all adds up.
  2. Check your tax codes. If you have more than one source of income that is taxed before you receive it (pension or two employers for example). HMRC do get these wrong quite often.
  3. Choose the right financial accounting year. If you are self-employed, you can get up to 20 months between earning your profit and paying your tax. This will allow you to plan well ahead.
  4. Use an Accountant. Any qualified accountant must keep up to date with legislation in order to maintain their license to practice. This means that we are always able to give advice based on current rules. When the UK budget happens, it changes the way we are taxed so there is a great deal of information which you may not be aware of. Knowing the most recent tax laws allows you to take advantage of them so you can pay less tax.

All of these things will contribute to a lower tax bill and shouldn’t really cost you much, if anything, to implement in your business.

On a more philosophical note, we pay tax so that the government can afford to provide the services, programs and infrastructure we rely on. Charities also provide services, programs and infrastructure but rely on donations to operate. If there is a charity that you believe in, and you are a higher rate tax payer you might as well make a donation as you will be supporting the charity and could be paying less tax as a result.  You may even already be supporting a charity without realising the benefits on your tax return.

If you need help with any of these strategies then don’t hesitate to give us a call and we will walk you through how to lower your tax bill in detail.

What Can I Claim on My Tax Return?

As accountants we hear all kinds of stories about things people want to claim on their tax returns. Sometimes we are able to get unusual things allowed. Other times the items our clients want to claim just have no basis and would only serve to get them in trouble with HMRC.

When we tell clients that they can’t claim some of these expenses they often say to us, “What CAN I claim on my tax return?” Because we get this question so often, we have decided to outline a brief explanation of the kinds of things you can and cannot claim tax relief on.

Things You Can Claim Tax Relief On

 

  1. Things you buy for the office such as stationery or business phone/ internet bills
  2. Money spent on business related travel such as fuel, parking, train, plane or bus fares
  3. The cost of some clothing such as uniforms or protective items
  4. Money paid out as wages or to sub-contractors
  5. The cost of your stock or raw materials
  6. Business expenses such as insurance, professional fees and bank charges
  7. Money you spend on the upkeep of your business premises such as heating and lighting
  8. The cost of advertising or marketing for your business such as website costs

You may also be able to claim things such as equipment, machinery or commercial vehicle costs.

What Does That Actually Mean?

 

The biggest one we get over and over again is for food; but food is a basic requirement of life, not an exclusive business expense. Trying to put through those expensive business lunches just isn’t going to cut it with HMRC.

It also means that if you try and tell HMRC, “I need to claim a load of Abercrombie t-shirts so I look good at work” they’ll just have a good laugh and then disallow it because you could just have bought those shirts for personal use. If you need to purchase a branded uniform solely for work purposes, that’s a different story.

Similarly, if you work from home and your carpet gets worn out, you can’t claim it, but if your office carpet needs replacing you can claim it.

Basically, HMRC are looking for a direct relationship between the cost of the items you buy, and the business, but if you still aren’t sure whether or not something you want to claim would be allowed, then contact us and ask your question for free.

Also, don’t forget to check out our new video below!

Why You Need An Accountant To Do Your Taxes: The Top Five Reasons

Everyone knows that taxes can be a real pain in the neck. They are a distraction from the day to day operations of your small business, but sadly they form the second of life’s two certainties – death and taxes – and that means you find yourself struggling to get them done right and on time each year.

As a small business owner, we know that you are constantly looking at the fees you have to pay for your stock, wages, insurances, taxes, marketing, and so on and comparing it to the money you are bringing in. The great temptation is to say that anything you can save some money on by doing it yourself is a good idea. You might even think about doing this with your taxes, but there are some really good reasons why you should reconsider your decision not to use a professional to prepare your taxes.

Let me outline some of them for you:

  1. Accountants keep up to date with legislation which means they know exactly what you can claim – do this yourself and you may miss things that you were entitled to, or worse, claim things you shouldn’t have. This can not only mean it gets disallowed, but you could also face a hefty fine if HMRC consider your actions negligent. Sometimes what you don’t know CAN hurt you!
  2. Having your taxes professionally prepared allows you to focus on your business while we focus on the numbers. Your business still has to run and earn money in January, if you waste a big chunk of your time in January doing your taxes, you may be neglecting the things that would actually make you money! This makes little sense when an accountant can prepare your taxes more accurately and in a fraction of the time.
  3. An accountant provides clarity where once there would have been mystery. They give you a full detailed calculation of the tax you owe and when you need to pay, so you don’t just have to blindly pay an amount of money which seems a mystery. They explain exactly where it comes from and how it was arrived at.
  4. When you are splitting your time between running your business and doing your taxes, it is easy to get distracted and miss the 31st January deadline. But a tax preparation professional is focused solely on that deadline and will ensure your tax return is filed on time – if you miss the deadline, there is an automatic £100 fine!
  5. Professional preparation means professional advice and professional representation. When you get your taxes done by an accountant you get their wealth of knowledge and advice too. With that knowledge you can make better decisions throughout the year so you will pay less tax in future years. And if you ever get checked by HMRC, you can have confidence that your accountant will help you find the answers the auditors are looking for.

So there you have it, the top five reasons why you should engage the services of an accountant to have your taxes professionally prepared this year.

If you are interested in the tax prep services we provide at CC Associates Ltd, then check out our short video below.

Do You Need To Submit A Tax Return Online? The Deadline is 31st January .

The deadline for submitting your tax return online is 31st January 2016. With only a little over a month left to go, many people will be scrambling to get their paperwork together, trying to figure out what rules apply to them and getting it submitted in time to avoid the automatic £100 fine for late submission.

Avoid fines – file your tax return online before 31st January!

When we talk to self employed people and small business owners we often hear the same things: having my tax return professionally done is too expensive and I have always done it myself.

These are only valid on first inspection – when you dig a bit deeper you will notice they disappear completely.

The cost of preparing your accounts and calculating the taxable position for your business is tax deductible. HMRC wants you to have your taxes prepared correctly so they allow you tax relief on that expense as an incentive for you to seek qualified professional help. Also, the fact that you have always done something yourself is not in itself a reason not to have someone else do it for you! If you can avoid the stress and confusion you feel at this time each year then it just makes sense to do so, doesn’t it?

As an added bonus we often find that we are able to save our clients more than the fees they pay us in areas that they may have been overpaying for years.

Our team of tax returns experts are able to take care of you, whether you have to fill out a simple tax return online or you are a director of a limited company with second and third incomes on the side.

Why not take a January holiday from the stress of submitting your tax return and let us do it for you?

Do You Sell Online?

ebay

 

This time of year brings online sales to everyone’s mind.

Last year we wrote a great blog article outlining the implications of buying and selling online from a tax point of view.

If you are selling things online this holiday season you need to check out this article.Etsy

We are happy to help with any queries you may have about this topic so you can then be assured of a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, with no unexpected knocks at the door asking you why you haven’t complied with the HMRC rules.

Why you need a local Accountant Bridgend

I have worked with local small businesses in Bridgend for many years, and one of the things I hear a lot from small business owners is that they have so much to do, and the paperwork side of things often gets left to the last minute and is seen as a necessary evil.

Business owners have a million and one things to organise every day, from dealing with suppliers, keeping up with demand for new products and services, helping customers and generally being all things to all people.

Lots of self employed people I know and Clients I have, tell me the same thing; that you work harder for yourselves than if you worked for someone else, rarely taking time off for short holidays or breaks and finding that running your business becomes a 24/7 responsibility, which is sometimes quite simply overwhelming.

It impacts on your family time, and you often find that running a business has given you even less work-life balance than you had when you worked elsewhere for someone else.

The biggest issue you may find is that you put the paperwork to the side, to do it later “When you get around to it”. Usually what then happens, is that the deadline becomes urgent, and the paperwork is then rushed and incorrect, or worse still, not done at all, and then come the fines and calls from HMRC.

It’s at this point that people sometimes contact me, just looking for an Accountant in Bridgend to get them out of the situation they have then found themselves in.

What I try and do then, is to not only sort out the immediate issue, but understand how your business works and operates, so that I can think of a way to make the ongoing future paperwork headache, less of a chore and make it fit in more with the day to day work that the business does anyway so that the problem doesn’t reappear in a few months time.

I have worked with just about every type of business you can think of over the 22 years, and living in the local area myself, I am passionate about the local economy and whatever I can do to assist stability and growth for small business here is something that I am wholeheartedly committed to. The last thing I want to see is a small business closed because they just couldn’t cope with the financial paperwork.

So, if you are in a position where you are just about to start a new business, and want an accountant in Bridgend to come to see you to explain the kind of paperwork that you need to keep properly so that you are on the right road from day one, or you have found yourself in a position where you may have not done everything you need to do, and need someone to come and help get you out of a problem, just give me a call and I will be more than happy to come and see what I can do to help you.

Contact me today for a free chat.

nic@ccassociates.info

Tel: 01656 729488

Bookkeeping Bridgend: Keeping Local Businesses Organised

TestTown Bridgend @TTBridgend is coming soon, and if you don’t already know what it is, this is where young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to showcase and sell their products on three trading days that will take place in Bridgend town centre 19th-21st November. This is supported by BCBC and Bridgend College and is sure to be a big success.

This venture has been timed to run alongside Global Enterprise Week 2015, and the theme is “Make it happen” and is also supported by Welsh Governments’ Big Ideas Wales Campaign. To encourage those interested in starting a business to take the idea forward.

I have been thinking about this project for a while now, and welcome wholeheartedly any initiatives that encourage and assist growth in the local area. We all know how Bridgend retail sector has been in steady decline since the recession, with so many shops still empty and boarded up. How nice it would be to see Bridgend as a flagship town for new and small business ventures being given the opportunity to fill the town again and return to the booming retail economy that it once was.

I have worked in accounts for 22 years, and I have worked extensively over the last 12 years with local business start ups, and people who are so passionate about their ideas that they do actually go forward and “Make it happen”.

Unfortunately, the problems start shortly after, when after realising their dreams, making all the efforts, actually launching their products, and being very successful in many cases, the finances side of things begins to engulf them into nothing short of a paperwork hell, which they just can’t cope with.

The small business owners I have met in Bridgend, almost always admit to simply not having a clue when it comes to what is required for their bookkeeping, and they are all quite terrified of HMRC. I spend time talking to these people and understanding what their business does, how it does it, and what I can do to help form simple systems for them to use for their bookkeeping which fits their business without an incredible amount of extra work being needed.

My firm belief is that bookkeeping is something that should be designed around the business, and not the other way around. All the business owners I have met in Bridgend and surrounding areas have quite enough to do already without adding a mass of instructions and rules and complex paperwork to their list of responsibilities.

Most people these days are fairly computer savvy, meaning that they can use a simple spreadsheet to record money in, and money out of their business. It’s these two things which are the fundamentals of accounts and bookkeeping, so it really isn’t as complex as people may think.

If a business owner can do that part correctly, everything else should be pretty straightforward, and with a little guidance, I can produce a full set of accounts from a good set of basic records.

Some businesses may be more complex, with VAT involved for example, but I can guide and assist into incorporating this into the bookkeeping system as well. If that all just gets too much, I can offer a fully outsourced bookkeeping service in Bridgend and local area, coming to rescue you from the mound of paperwork entirely, allowing you to continue running your business.

Whether you think you may just need a pointer in the right direction, or a fully supported bookkeeping service, I can help you so just give me a call today for a free, no obligation appointment.

Get In Touch

For more information on TestTown 2015, please call 01656 302382.

www.facebook.com/TestTownBridgend.