Preparing year-end accounts with FreeAgent

A brain dump of some steps for small business owners, preparing year-end accounts with FreeAgent.

This started as a few bullets points of notes to myself, jotted down when I was pulling together my company’s year-end accounts in the excellent online accounts package FreeAgent More recently, I’ve advised a friend as to what he needs, after parting company with an accountant.

FreeAgent

I use the excellent online accounts package FreeAgent, which happens to be bundled with my business bank account, but which I’d absolutely pay for, not least because it:

Includes Self Assessment filing, Dividend Vouchers and Corporation Tax forecasting

Outline

  • Check online access for Companies House, HMRC
  • Check through bank account, credit card statements
  • Gather paperwork
  • Set up accounts platform
  • Add categories if required
  • Opening balances (from company start, or from previous accounts system)
  • Set up bank feed
  • Import historical bank transactions
  • Add additional bank accounts / PayPal
  • Go through each transaction on the bank
  • Add expenses paid from personal money
  • Add use of home as office
  • Accruals and prepayments
  • Check reports, esp month to month
  • Compare to previous years
  • Companies House and HMRC filing
  • Pay Corporation Tax
  • Export records

Process

Timelines

From HMRC’s page on annual accounts for a Limited Company

ActionDeadline
File first accounts with Companies House21 months after the date you registered with Companies House
File annual accounts with Companies House9 months after your company’s financial year ends
Pay Corporation Tax or tell HMRC that your limited company does not owe any9 months and 1 day after your ‘accounting period’ for Corporation Tax ends
File a Company Tax Return12 months after your accounting period for Corporation Tax ends

Combined return

From HMRC’s page on Filing accounts and tax returns

You file your accounts with Companies House and your Company Tax Return with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You may be able to file them together if you have a private limited company that does not need an auditor.

I take advantage of the combined option, so this is due at the earlier of the two:

9 months after your company’s financial year ends

Check online access for Companies House, HMRC

For security, if you need a password or code, this will be sent to the registered office for your business, and may take 5-8 days to arrive, so I highly recommend checking this at the beginning, so that you don’t miss a filing deadline while waiting for the post.

Go through bank account and credit card transactions

Hopefully you’re running the vast majority of your business transactions through a business bank account, rather than mixing work and business. This has the advantage of making opening and closing balances make sense.

This is the first pass to see what other information you’ll need to gather.

In particular I’m looking for any purchases I may have forgotten I’ve made

Many of my purchases are for online services, and are often billed in dollars, so I use a credit card with no additional charge for transactions in dollars or Euros

Gather electronic paperwork

  • Go through email
  • Print to PDF
  • Log on to portals
  • Download bank statements (name well)

Gather physical paperwork

In this step I gather:

  • invoices that my company has issued
  • receipts for purchases

And I print out relevant “electronic paperwork” from the step above

Set up accounts platform

  • Add users (if you want to add your accountant)
  • Set up 2FA

Add categories if required

  • Defaults are often good
  • Mainly cost of sales

Opening balances

From company start, or from previous accounts system

  • Set up bank feed
  • Import historical bank transactions
  • Add additional bank accounts / PayPal
  • Go through each transaction on the bank
  • Add expenses paid from personal money
  • Add use of home as office

Check

  • Banking - no “unexplained” transactions
  • Invoices, bills, expenses - look for attachments (if you intended to upload a picture)
  • for transactions that should happen monthly that you have 12 of them, and not 11 or 13!

Accruals

Check for any regular payments which are at the beginning of the month - e.g. AWS bills for a full calendar month, which are invoiced at the start of the next month. Ensure that in this accounting year (or next), you don’t end up with 13 months’ worth.

In FreeAgent, I create a pair of Journal Entries, dated on the last day of the accounting year:

Accrue for SaaS web hosting FY2017/18

  • 30 Sep 18 - “660 Accruals” - “AWS Oct 18 relating to Sep 18” - Credit £94.35

  • 30 Sep 18 - “105 SaaS web hosting” - “AWS Oct 18 relating to Sep 18” - Debit £94.35

  • And then in the next financial year, on the date where the expense happened, I reverse the accrual.

  • Note that the Debits and the Credits are swapped.

  • If you do a lot of journals, you could additionally decide to always list the Credit before the Debit.

Reverse accrual for SaaS web hosting

  • 04 Oct 18 - “660 Accruals” - “AWS Oct 18 relating to Sep 18” - Debit £94.35
  • 04 Oct 18 - “105 SaaS web hosting” - “AWS Oct 18 relating to Sep 18” - Credit £94.35

Check interim reports

Contacts

  • Show “All contacts”.
  • check “Account Balance” is at £0.00

Work / Invoicing

Check useful statuses:

  • “Draft” - should be none
  • “Open or Overdue” - should be none
  • “Zero value” - should be none, unless intentional
  • “All” - check “Outstanding” is at £0.00

Bills

  • Check “Total Unpaid” is at £0.00

Accounting / Reports / Customer Sales

Accounting / Reports / Spending Categories

Export Financial Reports

  • Profit & Loss
  • Balance Sheet

Compare to previous years

Companies House and HMRC filing

Pay Corporation Tax

Export records

  • Just in case you

References

  • Crunch table
  • Expenses guide
  • HMRC guide
  • FreeAgent themselves