So it’s the New Year. I wonder if one of your resolutions was not to leave your accounts until the last minute this year. We’re nearly all guilty of it; even I do sometimes and I’m an accountant. I thought you may like some tips to make your life easier and help you to stop viewing your accounts like an alien. This can also help your accountant for when you give aforementioned “alien” to be completed. Obviously the more of these tips you follow the better but we aren’t expecting miracles so don’t worry. Most importantly Keep all the information you think will be needed. Do not throw out the old cheque book or paying in book, invoices or bank statements. Keep a box or filing cabinet especially for the paperwork you want to keep. Just keeping it is good but if you break it down into different files or one big file with dividers, then all the better. For example, separate purchase invoices, sales invoices, supplier statements, bank statements, credit card statements. Remember that a supplier statement is not an invoice and just keeping statements is no good for your accounting records – invoices are needed. Especially if you want to claim the VAT back. If you are like me then you may not file daily or weekly. You’ll get your post and it gets left in a pile to sort out some other time. At least if you have a box or special place just for your accounts it can be kept together ready for your monthly filing blitz. Do it weekly and you’ll find it’s not so much of a chore though. Bank statements are easily accessible online now so if you are missing some it’s not the end of the world. Do get them before giving your “alien” to your accountant though so he/she doesn’t have to wait on them. Keep a record on each cheque stub of the date, amount and payee, same for your paying in book and money coming in. If you want to go one step further even write on the supplier invoice the cheque number and date paid and on the sales invoice the date banked You may have an accounting package and need to raise sale invoices regularly. I recommend Online Web Accounting online accountancy software as your accountant can access the accounts from his/her office. This means he/she doesn’t need your computer with its stand alone accounts package to complete the accounts. Your online accounts can be accessed from any computer. If you are adding information to an accounts package please make sure you definitely know what you are doing or it will mean more time taken checking or undoing what has been done. Therefore more cost for you. If you are Vat registered and are doing the returns yourself make sure you keep all the calculations and invoice lists as back up with a copy of the VAT return. Maybe you don’t have an accounting package and all your records are to be kept on Excel. If you really want to help and cut down the work your accountant has to do then you can always list the invoices on a spreadsheet. Check with your accountant how they want it laid out. You’re really cruising now if you’ve got this far. If you are keeping everything up to date then there is no reason why you can’t hand over the “alien” to your accountant for completion a couple of months after your year end. Less pressure for you and the accountant than with a tax deadline looming. Makes sense doesn’t it?