Chris Whitley-Jones, Partner at leading UK firm PRB Accountants, collaborated with Danny Andersen of Danish tech company Netconomy, to develop a brand new sofware system that’s revolutionising the way we declare what we earn to HM Revenue & Customs. The result is PRBookkeeping, which Chris and Danny believe is the future of accounting. It’s a system that will make filing accounts easy not just for PRB’s core client base, network marketers, but also for anyone who doesn’t easily fit into the 9-to-5 lifestyle.
YES & NO caught up with Chris in central London and over tea we found out more about PRB’s vision as he talked us through the ins and outs and nitty-gritty details of network marketing and accountancy’s new horizon.
Y&N: Chris, you have a new product on the market, what is it called, and what is it used for?
CW-J: We’ve called it PRBookkeeping, which is not very imaginative but at least it says what it does. The strap-line is ‘The Solution for Network Marketers’ because it is aimed at the network marketing and direct selling sector, which we specialise in. It doesn’t have to be used for that, it can be used for any small business. What we’ve tried to do is to come up with an accounting service which really only has the bits you need. So it has all the right headings, limited functionality from the user’s end in the sense they can input their data, and it just feeds itself via the cloud to us. Then we, as the accountants, effectively have control over it. We can use the output from it to produce the accounts, and, ultimately, their tax return, which is what is required by HM Revenue & Customs.
Y&N: Why is this important now?
CW-J: Well, 31 January is the filing deadline for tax returns and the end of the tax year is 5 April. No one’s going to be doing anything between 31 January and the end of the last tax year. So, now it’s after 5 April, and although most people leave things to the last minute, we get a little cluster of people doing stuff early in the new tax year—but most people won’t be thinking about it until after the summer. That’s the reality.
Y&N: OK. And how would the client access this service, through an app?
CW-J: No, the service we offer is Cloud-based.
Y&N: Is the onus on the client to make sure that they input all the information?
CW-J: Yes, it is.
Y&N: How do you keep a check on what’s being input?
CW-J: Part of our role is to strip out things that people think they might like to claim for but actually aren’t tax-allowable. People have some interesting ideas. They might put childcare costs or clothing and say, “I only ever use this dress for events, I never wear it socially so it must be a tax relievable expense,” but that’s not how it works.
Y&N: Why is there a need for this now?
CW-J: It’s two-fold really. There’s a cost angle to it. I think there are lots of people out there who don’t use accountants or in fact do anything because they’re frightened about the tax return.
The more topical reason is making tax digital–MTD–which is on the horizon. Everyone running a small business is going to have to do something within the next few years about using a piece of sofware which is compatible with the Revenue’s systems and report to the Revenue on a quarterly basis. They can do it via an accountant but it has to be out of a piece of sofware. So, it won’t be sufficient to say to the accountant, “Here’s my spreadsheet with all my bits of data in it.” The piece of software that submits the data to HM Revenue & Customs has to have all the under lying data within it—the individual transactions, if you like, of income and expenditure.
Read the full article here.
‘A Revolution in Accountancy’ first appeared in YES & NO 02:01, published on 7 September 2018.