It’s that time of year again … January 31st is fast approaching and all your filing is still in a couple of old carrier bags at the back of your workshop – isn’t it?
Mine was until Tuesday too, so there’s no shame in admiting it.
Filing. Eeek. Despite my protestations there’s a teeny, tiny, dusty part of my soul that likes to see things in order. It rejoices when the filing is done and everything is neat and tidy. It’s the reason that all my paperwork is chronological and that I always have a receipt book:
I know, I don’t get out much.
Still, last year I got totally caught out by the Self-Assessment Tax deadline. It was my fault, I believed Moira Stewart when she said, in her confident News Reader voice, that ‘it’s quick and easy to file your Tax Return online’.
And to an extent it is.
What no one mentions is that registering for the privilege of using the ‘easy online service’ can, at busy times, take well over a week. The busiest time for HRMC is the last week of January. It’s the week when everyone registers in a panic on the 28th and frantically watches the Postman each morning until one of those little brown Inland Revenue envelopes arrives ….
Anyway … Getting everything in order for filing your return can be pretty scary – especially if you’ve never done such a thing before (and can’t afford an Accountant).
So, here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Keep everything. Obvious yet vital.
2. Get organised early. Find a day to spread your paperwork out on the floor, kitchen table or anywhere else you can get a clear idea of just what you have.
3. Love chronology. Order your receipts, bank statements, invoices etc. monthly – and then within that by date and/or supplier.
4. Feel no guilt. Stupidly small things, like that one gold jump ring you had to pop back and buy (which only cost 72p … ) are still business expenses. You spent your hard earned cash on them to further your business – so count them.
5. Double check things. Sometimes I loose a recipt but will have a stub to say I paid it in my cheque book – or a transaction record on my bank statement. These things need counting too – so long as you can prove what they were!
6. Archive it – buy a couple of cheap ring binders, some dividers and preserve that order you just created from chaos.
Once you’ve done all that have a cup of tea, maybe some cake – then we’ll talk about Excel.