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A taxing account

 

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Executive Hire News › Archives › October 2019 › In the Spirit of Crosshire : A taxing account

In the Spirit of Crosshire : A taxing account

Paddy’s Motorbike finds that he can’t agree with HMRC’s assertion that managing your tax affairs digitally is straightforward.

I almost feel that I would like to take Peter Jones of Dragon’s Den fame, pin him to a wall in a dark room and tell him that pain does not need to be painful. Mr Jones appears in an advertisement for a well-known accounting software company and suggests that “tax does not have to be taxing.” Well, I reckon he must not do his own company tax affairs or else his message would be different. 

All of the new accounting software firms out there must be doing great business. You cannot go a day without hearing adverts on radio and TV, or receiving a phone call or three from sales people with special offers that they have already sent you by email. As far as I’m concerned, the new rules on how to submit tax digitally (which EHN covered in our January/February 2019 issue) have caused me nothing but wasted time and money, along with lots of confusion and frustration, leaving me feeling quite miserable.

The first step, my accountant informed me, was to upgrade or change the accounts software I was using. This seemed to make sense, but here I found my first problem. In the past, your software would be purchased and sent to you on a CD. You expected it to last a good number of years before you had to replace it. Alas, you now have to subscribe with a monthly fee, and the more users you have, then the more you have to pay. So now you don’t even own the software, and it’s like buying a fresh copy every year.

I also decided to get a new PC as my current server was getting slow. A fresh install would surely overcome any issues with old software, making the process hassle free. Or so I thought, but again fate was not kind. It seems that the simpler the process should be, the harder it actually gets and in this case, there were no clear instructions on how to install my new (cloud-based) accounting program. Luckily, my accountant is very technically minded and had some experience in this field, having installed this software for other frustrated customers. Even with blistering internet speed and his understanding of the procedure, it was still a lengthy job and took us a few hours.

The next stage of this ‘un-taxing’ tax job was to network the PC, but mine would not connect to the software on the server. It was so frustrating that I admitted defeat and got an IT company in to finish the job. They were brilliant and sorted the problem. They told me after completion that the issue I was dealing with was not a networking problem at all: in fact, it was an accounting software problem! This took three phone calls to three different customer support teams, some of whom kept me on hold forever. And several of these calls took more than an hour of my time.

For a small business that does not have its own IT department, I am left to wonder what the government is doing. The upgrade, which only seems to help HMRC in doing its job, comes at a price: paying others to get this job done. I have spent a lot of my time sorting it all with no real gain for my company. And now, when you submit your information, you have to give a lot more of it. I would rather spend my time and money in trying to make a profit.

For any small business or start-up, there are a lot of new checkboxes to tick and many more hoops to jump through before you even begin to build a business and it all seems to come with a lot less help available. So remember, tax may not have to be taxing, but accounts packages are certainly painful.

Paddy’s Motorbike

     
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