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The Positive Accountant - Vol 2 Ed 43

Updated: Aug 5

So, the question burning on all of our minds is whether there is a second wave coming.

And if there is, will it be a weak follow up ? (anyone remember Grease 2 ? Thought not)

Or a fear inspiring shocker ? (Jaws 2 - Just when you thought it was safe to return)

Or are we going to be seeing something like the Bond franchise when each version is as big as the former ?

Of course, none of us know, and despite their protestations to the contrary, nor do the politicians. The media know that bad news sells, so we know which agenda they push. They also know stories about crises in Government and predictions about the NHS being overwhelmed sell best of all.

I'd love to be able to say that I had the answer. But I don't - I wouldn't even be as bold as to predict the basic rate of tax for the next tax year.

But it does go back to the very reason that I started filling up your inboxes with these treatises way back in March- how do we respond to the threat we face ? Do we party like there's no tomorrow - with inevitable consequences ? That doesn't sound sensible and is best left to the students...

Or do we lock ourselves away in an hermetically sealed container, seeing no-one and going nowhere. Then to die of terminal boredom.

For what it's worth here's my take. We know it's not going away, we know there isn't yet a vaccine. So sensible precautions make sense.

But aside from that, isn't it time that we started being positive about life again ? Stop reading the papers, stop listening to Radio 4 news programmes, stop quoting the day's positive test results (we now know they're not accurate anyway !). Time to live life again, (with care, social distancing and masks).

On that note, what are my positives today ?

1. Carmen has some extra tax relief

Those who have ever spoken to me about accounting systems know the deep reservations that I have about spreadsheets.

Yes, I know Microsoft Excel is a marvellous package (so is Apple's Numbers, Google's Sheets etc). And I have no problem manipulating data with it.

But it is incredibly easy to break and not notice. Carmen (name changed) is a self employed musician who keeps her records on Excel. She has formulae at the bottom of every month, and that totals to a summary page. Immaculate and brilliant.

Each months copies the previous month's sheet and formulae. What could go wrong ?

For some reason this year the top five lines of April's expenses weren't being picked up in the page totals. And because she copied April to May, May to June etc, the same problem happened on every page.

Added together the extra tax relievable expenditure came to over £5,000. Good job she has an accountant who checked, that was my easiest tax saving ever.

2. We have a new excuse for tax return errors

Sticking to spreadsheets, it would be an understatement to say I was surprised that the national coronavirus statistics were being kept and reported from an Excel spreadsheet.

It's a powerful tool to manipulate data, but I don't think it should be used as a main data repository. And the general rule in my experience is that the risk of Excel letting you down increases with the size of the data set, and increases exponentially with the number of different people that feed into it.

So whilst I was surprised that the Government was using it as their primary tool, I was completely unsurprised to find that it was giving massively false results.

But let's think about this - if you hypothetically forgot to record 16,000 sales invoices in your business, and were subsequently found out, all you have to say in future is:-

'We use Excel for our accounting and saved the file as an old fashioned .xls not a modern .xlsx. This meant that 16,000 lines were omitted.'

You can then go on and quote Matt Hancock - "This incident should never have happened...but it has not substantially changed the facts"

If you want some more examples of where Excel has let the user down, there is a short article (ironically) in the Guardian, see


3. Local Lockdown schemes launched

As we know, the English approach to the what is happening is to go for local lockdowns - the Prime Minister's 'Whack a Mole' solution. (Although I do wish he'd chosen a different description)

There is now maybe 20% of the English population under some sort of local lockdown.

If you find your business in full or in part in a locally locked down area there is targeted Government support now available, it is £1,500 per property affected every three weeks for larger businesses, and £1,000 for smaller businesses.

That isn't massively generous, but worth knowing about.

Stay safe, stay positive

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