Apologies if this has been asked before - I am thinking about setting up as a sole practitioner and have been looking into accountancy production, bookkeeping and taxation software. They are all very expensive that I have come accross so far. What do other people use when they have just started out? Do you do accounts manually on Word/ Excel etc for a while or is that completley outdated and unacceptable? The problem is that I only want to do a small amount of work around £5000 a year of fees max - this makes a £500-£1000 fee per year for software updates unrealistic.
Thanks for the help
Try the VT suite from VT software.
It's a book-keeping package that links to Excel-based templates to prepare stat accounts.
It's a lot cheaper than Sage, highly stable and very user-friendly. Unlike Excel, you get a proper double-entry system with an audit trail.
AccountingWeb on small practice software
For tax returns I've used Drummohr's Tax Assistant which has been fine and imports from VT accounts directly into the personal and partnership return modules. You'll need to check it passes your affordability test though-the annual increases are quite high.
Excel and Word work well provided you know how to use PivotTable effectively for data analysis, and can use the VLookUp function or PivotTable for bank reconciliations. If you want to use Word to produce statutory accounts, you use Paste Link from Excel, and use a book such as "Preparing Company Accounts 2009-10" by Ray Mayes as a guide. This approach is easy and works very well. From Word or Excel I produce pdf copies of accounts with Adobe Acobat.
I have looked at numerous accounting packages, but find that data entry using Excel is much much faster. It is also more flexible and is able to provide a far greater level of detail for analysis very easily.
For corporation tax returns and personal / partnership self assessment returns I use TaxCalc which is very good and comparatively inexpensive. For payroll and some client record-keeping I use QuickBooks.
The above approach is ok for now but a problem will arise in 2011 when HMRC will require the online filing of corporation tax returns with accounts in XBRL format. I know that TaxCalc are currently looking at this to provide a solution for Excel users.