We now have our activities colour-coded in a distinctive way. Anything to do with VAT is green, like the old form VAT100. Payroll is yellow, like the old payslip booklet P30BC. Companies and corporation tax are blue, like the second version of the CT600 or the general colour-cast of the Companies House website. This leaves red for sole traders and sometimes gold for partnerships.
To take companies as an example, we use blue files, obviously, but we also use a blue electronic payment advice when we wish to advise clients about their corporation tax liability in an accurate manner. Company records are stored in blue plastic bags in polythene 35 litre boxes. We have a cheaper archiving file which is a different shade of blue. Finalised accounts go to the client in bluish envelopes.
In the case of VAT, each VAT quarter has its own shade of green, emerald, apple or olive, so with each new month we can quickly pick out the files for the returns that need to be done that month. The VAT report we send out has an overall green colour-cast, but not overdone, which goes to the client in a greenish envelope. We have a stock of green bags bought on the Internet to store the records. We have three 35 litre boxes, one for each quarter, to store old VAT records until we hand them back to the client, and there is an big emerald, apple-green or olive card in each box so we can pick them out.
With this system, we can quickly put our hands on records which we need to retrieve, and life is generally a lot easier. We have an off-the-computer level of organisation which matches what we do on the computer. When we return records to the client, they are always bagged up in a logical manner. It took some time and shopping around to set it all up, but the results are well worth it.