Value Added Tax returns for the quarter ended 30 November 2018 should be submitted by 7 January 2019, and any payment which is due should be made electronically by the same date.
Archives for December 2018
It is now becoming obvious what sort of technology we need. If client-provided information is in the form of bank statements in the usual format, then we will scan them in using optical character recognition. For certain minor banks, the narrative will be in some funny format which is too awkward to scan, so we will use our narrative prediction system instead. It’s full OCR for all the high street banks and some minor banks, and an OCR/NP hybrid for all other minor banks.
We consider that NP based upon repetitive narrative is superior to OCR, but NP based upon statistics is inferior to OCR, and we will develop a hybrid OCR/NP system which reflects this. Weak NP will be able to overwrite OCR only when there is some degree of correlation.
Bank statements in unusual formats, credit card statements, other printed matter and all handwritten records will be typed in by the column. We’ve replaced our numeric keypads with the best models according to Amazon, and we will encourage the clerk to type in numbers from paper records without looking at the screen. We will make it very easy to go back and correct mistakes after the end of each statement when the checking is done.
The two commonest mistakes are missing the decimal point and missing the minus sign to indicate income (the clerk normally works in debit-positive convention). The clerk can move the cursor back to the error, and will have a choice of typing in codes from the keypad like *00 and *+, or of clicking on buttons on an onscreen toolpad which are also labelled *00 and *+ with reminders alongside of what these codes do.
If the clerk types in *** from the numeric keypad, then it will be possible to cycle around from numbers to dates to narratives and back to numbers. There will also be onscreen buttons with *** to click on as an alternative. This “triple star” system might look a little gimmicky, but it should give the clerk a feeling of being in control and of having decent technology when OCR cannot be used.
Small private companies with a year end of 31 March 2018 and into their second or later year of existence should submit their accounts to Companies House by Monday 31 December 2018 in order to avoid a Late Filing Penalty.
The last posting date for first class letters in the UK which are intended to get there before Christmas is Thursday December 20th. Perhaps extra time should be allowed for letters sent to the Isles of Scilly or the Hebrides.
We keep ourselves aware of collection times from all our nearest post boxes. Our nearest box actually has a morning collection time and we post there at night if we have missed the 5 pm collection time from the box at the nearest supermarket.
It can happen sometimes that when you are an employer, you have not actually made any wage or salary payments for a PAYE month such as the month from 6 November to 5 December 2018. In that case you must submit electronically an Employer Payment Summary as a NIL return by 19 December. This is too easy to overlook.
If you engage a local accountant and business advisor or a payroll bureau to do your wages, then this will be taken care of. In our case we keep a diary and do a batch of payrolls at about the same time each month. Our payroll files are bright yellow like the old P30BC booklet so we do not overlook them. We colour-code all the taxes so green is VAT, red is income tax, blue is corporation tax and yellow is PAYE.
The last posting date for second class letters in the UK which are intended to get there before Christmas is Tuesday December 18th. Perhaps extra time should be allowed for letters sent to the Isles of Scilly or the Hebrides, or send them first class.
If there are a lot of letters to post, then second class sent early is more reliable than first class sent at the last minute.
Construction Industry Scheme returns for the month from 6 November to 5 December 2018 should be submitted online by 19 December. This includes NIL returns.
It is only too easy to get caught out by the need to submit a NIL return when no payments to subcontractors have been made. If you engage a local accountant to do your CIS returns, then this will be taken care of. In our case we keep a diary and do a batch of work at about the same time each month. We aim to be the Carlisle accountants that businesses will turn to for a range of advice and services. Our payroll files are bright yellow so they are hard to overlook, and CIS files also have a green line around them so they are easy to pick out.
After doing a few more jobs, it is becoming obvious where we are going with new technology. We have two principal new technologies which use artificial intelligence, namely optical character recognition and narrative prediction. We will use them like this :
The main high street banks will have their statements processed using full OCR. Obviously with them being the banks we see every day, there is an incentive to work out how to use OCR all the time, even if some of the narrative on some of the bank statements is a little difficult to interpret.
Other banks and building societies acting as banks will also have their statements processed using full OCR if we can manage it, but we won’t try too hard. Instead we will often use a combination of OCR on numbers and dates only, and NP for the narratives. Some narratives are so convoluted that trying to read and interpret them using OCR will just be futile.
With bank statements in unusual formats, we will just type them in by the column using the slick system we have developed. NP can still be used effectively. Any credit card statements will also be typed in. No doubt we could work out how to use OCR, but there would be so much faffing about with weird formats that typing and a bit of NP will be quicker. It is often the case that most credit card payments are for petrol or Diesel fuel, and we can reprogram the F9 key on the keyboard to generate the appropriate narrative even before using NP.
We will keep a list of banks and their recommended processing method so the clerk can consult it and then just get on with it.
With handwritten records resembling bank statements, again we type them in by the column, not by the row, and can make good use of NP.
With piles of invoices we just type them in by the row, but we have a fast system to do this. Often all we type in is a day and an amount, and month, year and narrative are copied down from the previous entry.
We have a working OCR system which does nicely with the top three banks. Our NP system needs a bit more work done on it considering its intended ubiquitous use, but this will be worth it. We will in the future develop a hybrid OCR/NP system where the narratives are first scanned in with OCR, and then selectively overwritten or corrected with NP where there is corroboration.
In practice, we have got to where we want to be already, and further development work will be in the spirit of continuous improvement (“kaizen”) rather than a life-and-death struggle at the frontier of technology. Usage of this system is never boring for the clerk since there is some variety and plenty of flashy new technology to play with. It is then just a matter of taking a decision about processing and getting on with it. We would be perfectly competitive if we never used full OCR, just the combination of OCR on numbers and dates and NP.
What would it be like if we stopped used OCR completely? Well, it would start to be tedious to have to type in all the bank statements, although that is still better than having to analyse them in the traditional way. We would still have a lot of other technology and could probably match the performance of other accountants who use other OCR systems because our systems are more integrated. What would be the main casualty is our imagination, because OCR work provides a stimulus to develop other systems to complement OCR.
The last posting date for airmail letters which are intended to get to Canada and the USA before Christmas is Friday December 14th.
We suggest that you post a little earlier than this if your letter is going to British Columbia, Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, California or Hawaii.
If your company had a deadline of 30 November 2018 for the submission of its accounts to Companies House, and this deadline has been missed, then you still have something to play for, and you should contact Carlisle accountants such as David Porthouse and Co at once. You will incur a penalty of £150, but this penalty rises to £375 after 31 December 2018 if you still haven’t submitted your accounts. These penalties are £300 and £750 if you miss the deadline two years’ running. We can readily prepare and submit your accounts within the month if you contact us straight away.
Just stating the obvious, if you miss a deadline and incur a penalty, you still have the obligation of preparing and submitting accounts. That doesn’t go away and your penalty is just extra money you will need to pay.