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9 out of 10 Accountants See Benefits of Online Software

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) recently conducted some research in the first half of July 2014 to try to determine what accountant practice attitudes were towards cloud-based accountancy software.

These findings will help to inform the agenda for a scheduled panel debate set to take place in October. 260 people took part in the survey which was conducted online.

With around 40 per cent of accountancy practices already using either Sage One or a cloud-based solution, there is a real awareness of the opportunities and benefits it brings. Out of the remaining two thirds of practitioners who have not yet made the transition to cloud, 8 out of 10 were aware of how online software would benefit their role.

Overall, a majority of 90 per cent believed that adopting a more ‘mobile working’ approach and utilising real time data would offer real advantages. The benefits cited are listed as:

  • Having improved data security
  • Option to move to subscription licensing and scalability
  • Automation
  • Lower costs for both hardware and software
  • Better working relationships with clients
  • Greater IT infrastructure control
  • Improved efficiency
  • The ability to work with ‘live’ real time data
  • The opportunity to work form various different locations

Just under half of respondents identified several different areas where they thought they could gain from expert guidance. These included:

  • Saving costs with cloud best practices
  • Managing security
  • Driving efficiency through the cloud
  • Driving profitability through business growth
  • Marketing to clients and potential clients
  • Migrating clients over to online solutions
  • Managing mobility

There are still quite a significant number (68 per cent) holding back with regard to switching over to a more online way of working, as they want to see some of the following options to be either improved or made available. These are:

  1. Management information solutions such as expert guidance on compliance and legislative issue
  2. Complex reporting solutions
  3. Final accounts solutions

Lastly, for all the recent touting of how more modern methods of communication are the way forward such as web chat and video calling, the perennially popular email is still the most preferred method of communication, favoured by 39 per cent. This is followed by the telephone at 22 per cent. It looks as if these more traditional ways of keeping in touch with clients are here to stay for a good while yet!

These findings make it clear that although there is a lot of interest in cloud-based software, and that most accountants are aware of the advantages it can offer, accountants still need to be assured that significant efficiencies can be gained and that their data is safe and secure

Invest into Clearbooks

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Clear Books plc, provider of cloud accounting and payroll software to 7000 small businesses in the UK, has launched Cloud Funding II to raise £3.3m growth capital. The round has received advance assurance from HMRC for EIS tax relief. You can purchase shares priced at £12 each.

Existing shareholders have already invested £0.5m, which follows on from £0.8m raised in 2013 in an oversubscribed round.

To find out more please visit

Recent company highlights include 74% annual revenue growth to March 2014, a partnership with Santander and monthly sales now at £100k.


Global cloud market will be worth $121bn by next year, report finds

recent report from market research firm Markets and Markets reveals that the cloud market is expected to grow to $121 billion dollars by 2015: a 26% compound annual growth rate from the $37 billion value in 2010.

A large proportion of the growth of the cloud services sector is being driven by rapid adoption of Software-as-a-service platforms, which are saving businesses on the cost of licensing, management, and deployment of software and hardware for productivity and collaboration.

Infrastructure-as-a-service is also expected to grow rapidly as a platform on which businesses will host their own SaaS solutions and for other business critical infrastructure deployments.

Much of the growth is being driven by larger companies that have previously been reluctant to invest in cloud infrastructure because of concerns of vendor lock-in, lax security, and the difficulty of developing cloud solutions that are tailored to their specific requirements.

As the cloud sector has matured and begun to react to these concerns, solutions have been put in place that reassure IT influencers that the obvious benefits of cloud deployment don’t carry a sting in the tail.

One aspect of that reassurance is the development of open cloud APIs and standards that allow for the portability and control of data and cloud-deployed applications, providing business with the necessary flexibility to tailor solutions to their short and long-term goals.

Open APIs and standards help to create an open market and foster innovation and differentiation within the cloud space. The ability of companies to assess individual vendors on merits like availability and performance gives them the flexibility they need to be confident of cloud investment.

The opening of the cloud also enables the development of federated cloud environments. Companies can select from the available vendors to build interoperable multi-cloud environments, choosing the components that best fit their particular needs.

Cloud marketplaces that empower businesses to orchestrate tailored conglomerations of cloud compute, storage, and networking infrastructure strengthen the position of cloud vendors when companies are balancing the benefits of cloud deployments and traditional colocation or in-house infrastructure provisioning.

Cloud marketplaces augment the existing benefits of the cloud: on-demand pricing that lowers capital expenditure, fast deployments that allow businesses to remain agile, reactive scaling both up and down, and flexible APIs that allow for the automation of infrastructure orchestration. The cloud marketplace layer enhances the value of the cloud by providing centralized control for an increasingly differentiated set of vendors.

The substantial year-on-year increases in cloud uptake can be attributed to an erosion of cloud skepticism in the enterprise and the willingness of cloud vendors to hear what companies are saying and work towards providing platforms and marketplaces to meet their needs.



Invoicing from anywhere
Your clients can now download our Sage One mobile app, making working on the move that much easier.

We’re excited to tell you about our latest release – Sage One is now available as a free mobile app to accompany your clients Sage One Accounts or Sage One Accounts Extra subscription and we’re giving them the chance to be one of the first to get it.

The app is brand new, and has been designed to give greater flexibility to help manage accounts on the move.

  • Raise sales invoices and send them directly by email.
  • Take payments immediately (if they’re integrated with Sage Pay).
  • View contacts’ details and get directions to their location through your phones navigation. Read more

The app is available to download from the App Store on Apple mobile devices (there’s an Android version on the way too). Forward this email so your clients can go straight to the app store and download it now.

Real Time Information (RTI) Penalty Notices

As an employer you may have received an RTI penalty warning letter accusing you of not submitting all of the RTI returns required for 2013/14. However, that letter may be incorrect.

HMRC has admitted that its computer has churned out inappropriate penalty warning letters to employers who have submitted employer payment summaries (EPS) during 2013/14. If you have submitted all the required RTI returns for the tax year you can ignore the warning letter, as a penalty will not be charged.

This “cry wolf” by HMRC sets a dangerous precedent, as you may be inclined to ignore further RTI penalty warning letters that could be issued later this year.

From October 2014 new penalties come into effect where the monthly full payment submission (FPS) is submitted late, or an EPS is not submitted where a FPS is not required as no payments are made. If or when those new penalties arrive you will be able to appeal against the penalty online. Note this online appeal system is not up and running yet.

From October 2014 the FPS will contain a new box that allows you to tell HMRC why the FPS is apparently late, perhaps because you are taking advantage of the concession for payrolls with nine or fewer employees.

The EPS will also be changed in October so it will relate to a particular tax month. This will avoid the need to file the EPS in the window of 20th of the current month to 19th of the following month to ensure it is applied by HMRC to the appropriate tax month.

VAT on Digital Services

Do you sell digital services such as: music or software downloads, e-books or online videos? If so, do you know where your customers are, and whether they are businesses or individuals?

From 1st January 2015, when you sell digital services across international borders you will have to collect information about your customers to determine if they are businesses or not, and where they are based. Where your international sale is to a non-business customer, from 2015 you will have to charge that customer VAT of the country where he or she is located (if that’s in the EU). You will also have to register for VAT in your customer’s country. This is because the VAT threshold for traders selling into other EU countries is zero.

Many music and software creators are suspicious of the large online stores such as iTunes, and want to sell their tunes or games directly to their customers. If you sell through a large online store, that store sorts out the VAT so you don’t have to worry about it. However, if you sell your digital product directly to non-business customers who are located in other EU countries from 1st January 2015, you must deal with the VAT consequences.

The easiest way to do this will be through the HMRC website under a system called VAT-MOSS. This system goes live from October 2014, and it will allow you to account for VAT in all the EU countries you sell services to.

However, in order to use VAT-MOSS you must first be registered for VAT in the UK. If you are not already VAT registered, perhaps because your turnover does not exceed the UK VAT threshold of £81,000, you need to pick one of these options:

1. register for VAT in the UK;
2. stop selling digital services to non-business customers outside the UK; or
3. sell only through online stores or other businesses.

Free Companies House Data

Companies House has announced it will make all of its digital data available free of charge. This will make the UK the first country to establish a truly open register of business information.

Salary and Dividend Strategy 2014

As a director and shareholder of your own company you can decide how much salary to pay yourself each month in order to use your tax-free personal allowance in the most tax efficient way. Any further funds you need can be extracted as a dividend if the company is making a profit.

If you are a director of your company and you don’t have a contract that sets out terms of employment with the company, you don’t have to pay yourself the national minimum wage. So how much should you pay yourself?

For 2014/15 if you were born after 5 April 1948 you have a tax free personal allowance of £833 per month (£10,000 per year). You could take a salary at that level and pay no income tax, assuming you have no other taxable benefits from the company such as a car.

However, you will pay national insurance (NICs) on that salary as the NICs threshold is only £663 per month. From a gross salary of £833 the company must deduct NI of £20.40 and set-aside employer’s NI of £23.46 on top. The company will have an employment allowance of £2,000 for the year to set against its employer’s NI due on all its employees, so it won’t have to pay over employer’s NI until that £2000 is used up.

If you take a salary of just above the NI lower earnings threshold of £481 per month, you will get an NI credit towards your state pension, but you don’t pay any tax or NI. However, at that annual salary level (£5,772) you will be “wasting” £4,228 of your tax free personal allowance, unless you have other income to cover it.

Claiming Motor Expenses for a Self-Employed Client

You  can calculate their business-related motoring costs by either:
a) Take the proportion of business miles to total mileage driven in their vehicle in the year and apply that proportion to their total motoring costs for the year; or
b) Use the fixed expense of 45p per business mile for the first 10,000 miles driven in the year and 25p per mile for additional business miles in the year.

If your client uses method a) they can also claim capital allowances on the cost of your vehicle, restricted for the private use of that vehicle. However, if they use method b) they can’t claim capital allowances for their vehicle but they can claim the interest amount of any finance lease used to purchase the vehicle.

Employment allowance

In the tax year beginning April 6th 2014.  HMRC are giving UK employers a help.  This is in the form of an Employers NI.  In that tax year the first £2000 of Employers NI will be waived.

For those of you that use Sturgess and Co for payroll this will be automatically calculated and reflected in the quarterly P30.

Do bear in mind that employees NI is not waived, so before you get carried away and put a higher amount through PAYE!

However you should be paying employees the minumum wage which equates roughly to £13,500 a year.  On this example a saving of £765.12 Employers NI will be made each employee.  Total tax and NI due £1363.28 per employee if standard tax code.

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