The UTR is a 10-digit number in a format like 12345 67890. You will need this number for all your dealings with HM Revenue & Customs. It is not the same as your National Insurance number, and you need one to submit a tax return.
If you are starting as a sole trader, which is the simplest thing you can do, then contact an accountant who can order a UTR for you over the Internet. This may take 7-10 days to arrive by post. If you need it more quickly, then we will e-mail our Acknowledgement Reference code to you, and you can try telephoning the Revenue.
If you are starting as a partnership, then contact an accountant who can order the UTRs for you. Every partner needs a UTR and you need an additional UTR for the partnership as a whole, so it is best not to leave things too late.
If you are starting as a company, then a UTR will be sent to you through the post on form CT603. Do not lose this document, which could be very awkward if you need the UTR quickly later on. Note that the company UTR is in the same 10-digit format, but it is different from any personal UTR which you may have.
If you have been previously self-employed, or you have had to submit a tax return, then you will have a UTR already, and you can just go on using it. If you have only ever been an employee and you have never submitted a tax return, then you won’t have a UTR. Don’t leave it to the last minute to get one !
When you get the UTR, it would probably be a good idea to make a separate record of it in a diary or address book. Note that you need to fill in a tax return if you have any income or capital gains that the Revenue don’t know about, whether from trading, providing a service, renting property, interest, dividends, the sale of shares or anything else.
We are able to produce accounts at high speed using the latest technology. We can get you to approve the accounts by e-mail if they are not complicated. We can submit a tax return over the Internet straight after you sign the necessary documentation. We can calculate your tax and then e-mail you a notice giving electronic payment details. The weak link in the chain is getting a UTR from the Revenue, and we intend to use the new Accelerated Mobile Pages system to publicise the need to get that UTR !
Getting a UTR is in fact the main theme of this website. We have done a “critical path analysis” and we see a need for something like this. We hope AMP can help.
We are accountants based in Stanwix to the north of Carlisle. We are keen on the introduction of new technology with the aim of being able to produce affordable accounts. Internally we use a combination of optical character recognition, artificial intelligence, a teachable computer and all-electronic accounts production to achieve our aims. Our system is designed to be as versatile as possible, and most of it based upon software which we have written ourselves. To support it, we have an expert system packaged as an Intranet.
Externally we take an interest in using the Internet along with new ideas like QR codes and AMP to promote ourselves and enhance our ability to advise clients. This website is our AMP effort and it is intended to be a full website where everything works at high speed. You can be the judge.
This website is intended to be viewed on a mobile phone and it is in the style of a public noticeboard rather than a traditional desktop website. We deal with the main issue which we encounter which is getting the UTR.
At the time of writing (September 2017) we are the only accountant in Cumbria with both an AMP website and an Intranet. We are aiming to be the leaders in technology for accountancy, and the cost leader as well.
We offer a free consultation and can give you a firm quote at once based upon your business details, using a mobile phone and our online quotation calculator. If we do arrange a meeting, could you please have ready any documents which apply to your business and tax affairs.
We will bring along some basic free bookkeeping material which we can give you, and we will show you how to record pre-trading expenses such as a computer and a van. We have our own looseleaf bookkeeping system and can e-mail you a free PDF file so you can manufacture additional pages when you need them. If you want to promote yourself on the Internet, then we will give you a NAP card to get you started. We also have a free handout on getting that UTR. There is no obligation in any of this.
If by any chance we cannot get good mobile phone reception in your area, we may need to e-mail you with a quote the next day if you have complex requirements.
Choosing an Accountant
Generally you should choose an accountant like yourself. If you are a big multi-national company, then you should choose a big firm of accountants. If you are a one-man or one-woman business, pick a similar accountant. If you like technology, pick a technological accountant (like us). If you don’t like technology, then avoid a technological accountant (but be prepared to pay more). If you have specialist requirements, then pick an accountant who specialises. Ask around. Generally larger firms can provide a wider range of services, but their fees tend to be higher, which is of course entirely legitimate if they offer more.
Some accountants specialise in a particular type of client such as doctors and dentists, or the tourist industry. Some specialise in getting grants for particular types of client, such as farmers. Our own specialities are small companies and in particular, small companies with director’s current accounts which need to be carefully managed.
Most accountants are keen on using e-mail because e-mails are quick to produce, get there at once, and can wait if the recipient is not available. We are very keen on e-mail. If you are not, then there may be another accountant who is in a position to help you better. Again, it is likely to cost you more. We look at our e-mails on days like December 27th even when we are nominally closed for business, and other accountants can also do something like this by remote access although their office is shut.
Don’t go outside the Cumbria area. We see national firms advertising at rates like £100 per month. We are one local firm who are much cheaper than that, but there are plenty of other local accountants who are cheaper as well.
Approach accountants directly. Don’t go through an agency or intermediary who will merely charge you for something that you could have done for yourself. We’ve got the Internet, so make use of it.
Don’t try to be your own accountant. The rules keep changing, and not knowing them can turn out to be much more expensive in the end. You could try phoning round, getting quotes from accountants, and then picking the most expensive accountant! That may be a strange thing to do, but it is still likely to be cheaper in the long run than trying to do it yourself.
Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted. Now that we have the Internet, have a look around accountants’ websites. Do your homework. Make sure you read this (!). Generally Cumbrian accountants have friendly websites, and we must compliment our competitors here. Our own websites tend to be plainer and more functional.
Think twice about an accountant without a website at all, because you might struggle to get hold of them when you need them. Generally “we can’t contact our accountant” is the number one client complaint.
If you are trying to contact us, the best procedure is to e-mail us and then wait 24 hours. We might need some time to look at another website at the Revenue or Companies House before replying, and they tend to update overnight. Then you could either telephone us or send us a text message to our mobile phone. This is also known as an SMS message and we may ask you for an SMS number if you have one. We will only use it in an emergency. Generally e-mail and SMS are preferred because they will still be on the system if the recipient is not there, while e-mail is preferred over SMS because it can take attachments. If neither e-mail nor SMS draws a response, we will print off and post the e-mail in a colourful envelope.
The accounts of companies and charities need to be published, and for these you would do best to go to a Chartered Accountant or Chartered Certified Accountant. Look for the qualifications ACA or FCA in England, CA in Scotland, and ACCA or FCCA in either country. All such accountants need Professional Indemnity Insurance and are subject to inspection by their professional bodies.
Other accounts, such as sole traders and partnerships, do not actually need to be published, and for these the minimum level of qualification to consider is Member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (MAAT or FMAAT). Most of these work anyway for the professional accountants described in the previous paragraph, and big partnerships will prefer a professional accountant.
An unqualified accountant is best avoided. They could have failed some exams or been struck off. There’s no way of knowing. As the law stands, anyone can describe themselves as an “accountant”, whereas only a qualified person can describe themselves as a “solicitor”. Maybe the law should be changed, but that’s how it is.
We can give you an estimate over the phone if you bear with us. We would need to know your turnover (sales per year), whether you are a sole trader, partnership or company, and other details. We have an online system where we can work it out at once. Don’t hesitate to get quotes from a number of different accountants. Our market position is as The Technological Accountants. Try asking other accountants where they see themselves.
Your accountant should also be your general business adviser. Our principal merit as a potential business adviser is that we have done something substantial in introducing new technology to attack the high cost of accounts production, which we treat in part as an industrial process which is capable of automation. At the same time, there are elements of this new technology which can be used to improve the personal service which we give. This gives us a distinctive style which some people will like (we’re cheaper!) but other people may not. Anyway, we are strong advocates of cost leadership as a business strategy because you just can’t argue with it.
Accountancy is a mature industry and we have a set of accounts priced out as a commodity, and we are confident that we will always out-compete on that basis. There is another business model which says that it should be priced as a personal service. This second model looks at things in terms of value delivered to the customer, which may permit higher prices in certain markets. If you are a business providing a new type of product or service, then we will discuss with you what type of pricing model is most appropriate.
Too many businesses start out with production costs plus a standard profit margin when they should be looking at other ideas. What is fairly normal is cost-plus pricing most of the time in the standard market, but opportunities to price at value-delivered some of the time, and these opportunities should be taken. The superprofits that you make could be reinvested in cutting production costs in the standard market. We will also watch for the situation where you get a big contract, are working all hours, but not actually making that much extra profit.
If you aim to charge a higher price based upon value-delivered, you may find that other accountants are better able to advise you, since we are obviously cost-plus specialists. They will naturally charge you a higher fee in keeping with the spirit of their advice. Be sure that this fee is worth it, and that you are not just subsidising inefficient working practices. It would be fair enough if they were reinvesting their superprofits in attacking production costs, and they just happened to be a bit tardy about doing this, but you should see some evidence like a lack of fee inflation from year to year.
Many businesses pick an accountant by personal recommendation from another business. Many accountants rely upon this as their principal source of new clients. We like to do a bit of website promotion and a bit of direct mail on the side so we are better able to advise clients.
On a regional note, accountants use computer software, which has to be written somewhere. Where would you like it written? In London? In Newcastle? In Carlisle? Ask your accountant to what extent they support local software developers.
David Porthouse & Co,
Chartered Certified Accountants
81 Larch Drive, Stanwix, Carlisle CA3 9FJ
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