Being a bookkeeper and a business owner means my day rarely runs to plan. A full day of bookkeeping only happens when I visit clients because there are no telephone calls, emails, visitors, staff or other priorities requiring my attention.
When I am in the office for the day I start the day with good intentions but often leave feeling I haven't achieved anything that I wanted to. Today was one of those days so I thought for my blog this week I would look back at today and see what I really did achieve.
So, this was today in the life of me, a bookkeeper and business owner .................
The first half hour was spent sending emails about IT and telephone issues and responding to emails received since I left on Friday. So far so good. Then it was 9am and the phone started ringing! A client with a query, then another. A quick word with the bookkeepers to review the priorities for today - the final day for VAT submissions - before it was back to my desk. A quick check that sufficient funds are available in current accounts for client VAT payments today before a telephone call to remind a client that I still need information to complete their VAT return. Telephone calls in the meantime with our IT company who are remotely accessing my computer to sort out the issues. Finally the information is received to complete the VAT return, it is filed and payment made. Phew! I don't like being that close to the deadline as usually all our returns are done by the month end but the Christmas and New Year break always leaves us short of time.
Then whilst filing that VAT return I notice that their PAYE account shows several late payment interest charges. Strange. And when I delve deeper I see that the account shows only 4 payments received in this year and 2 in last year. I know this account is up to date because I set up the payments. Its so hard to get information about transactions on the PAYE account now that they have changed it and if you don't have the client's log in and can only use your agent login you won't see anything at all. Very helpful!
So a telephone conversation with HMRC ensued and to cut a long story (and a half hour telephone conversation) short it turns out that all the PAYE payments are being allocated to historical debt and interest charges. Historical debt that neither I nor the client have been told about! As a payroll agent for numerous employers we often receive notifications of late payments, underpayments and overpayments but nothing has ever been received for this client. I was told I would have to discuss that with debt management! When I asked why payments with the currrent year reference on them for the same amount as the RTI submission weren't allocated to the correct month I was told that HMRC can allocate the payments where they want to if there is older debt. No wonder we can never reconcile what we pay with the record HMRC has! There is no way of knowing where payments go because HMRC split them up so you can't track anything.
So whilst we are told to add 4 specific digits to the reference for a payment we want allocated to a previous year i.e. for Class 1A, when you don't add extra digits HMRC won't necessarily put it in the current year if they decide they want to use it somewhere else. It therefore appears that HMRC make rules for us and have different rules for themselves.
I finally gave up trying to work out where it had gone wrong and asked to be sent a list of payments but, no that is not possible and I have to request it in writing. So I then spent another half an hour writing a letter setting out the inaccuracies of the account with supporting evidence and asking for a list of payments so that I can try and identify where the historical debt that they are paying off occurred. I have no historical debt in the accounts so somewhere along the line there will be a payment which has not been allocated to the account and I need to try and find this.
Lunchtime already and my day continues with clients popping in with paperwork and a very welcome New Year gift. Having an office which is easily accessible to clients means we frequently get to meet them and can build a much better relationship and keep up to date with what is happening with their business.
This afternoon was a review with the newest bookkeeper in our team. I feel it is really important to do reviews with everyone from time to time because they are an opportunity to talk through things which may not come up during general work discussions and of course it really helps to have some one to one time with each of them.
The end of the afternoon saw me completing a set of accounts to send to an accountant for a tax return, sorting out the charges on our BT bill, setting up Xero for a new bookkeeping client, sending out a statement from Xero for a client who couldn't access it, replying to emails received today and preparing notes for our monthly team meeting tomorrow.
And I left for the day feeling like I hadn't achieved much! But that is a very good reason to reflect on each and every day because whilst the task list doesn't seem to diminish there are so many things which get done which didn't even make it to the task list.
Now that I have written this I feel much better about what I have achieved today. I just need to add "Post letter to HMRC" to my task list for tomorrow as I left it on my desk in my rush to get home!