Tell me why I need accounting software rather than HMRC online tools?

Surr3yaat Registered Posts: 3 New contributor ?

This is my first time posting on this forum so please forgive me if I've added this to the wrong section!

Next year I'm planning on starting my own accountancy service from home. My intention is to prepare end of year accounts for contractors and sole traders. Right now I'm looking into which systems I need to prepare and submit end of year accounts for clients to Companies House and HMRC.

I've looked at Sage, IRIS, and plenty of other cloud based accountancy software packages, however I've also used the HMRC online filing tools and found these to be very straight forward. At a recent AAT event I attended I was discussing software with one of the speakers who told be that having an accountancy package was essential however I can't understand why.

I'd love to hear your opinions on this as well as the methods you use.

Thanks in advance for your comments



  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    If you're just starting out, HMRC free online software is ok.

    Paid for software is miles better. You get what you pay for.

    If I bookkeep a very simple limited company in VT, and I bookkeep it perfectly, I can then produce a set of Ltd Co accounts in about 10 minutes. You can't do that manually.

    I find commercial tax software quicker, too.

    Our software:

    12Pay - payroll
    VT - accounts production, bookkeeping
    Xero - bookkeeping
    FTax - tax returns
  • Gidon
    Gidon Registered Posts: 1 New contributor ?

    It's also worth remembering that most accounting software will be used by your clients to manage their businesses. They will use the software to generate invoices, email statements and keep on top of their receivables and payables. This also means that by the time you pick up their books, they will be in good shape to prepare the financials.

    The choice of free vs paid and cloud vs desktop often comes down to preference but Monsoon is generally right in that paid for options will generally provide better quality and importantly, better support.

    Feel free to get in touch if you have any other queries as we have loads of small accounting firms signed up with us.

    Kind regards

  • Fingersan
    Fingersan Registered Posts: 84 ? ? ?

    We have approx 400 clients in varying size and 7 'technical' staff and subcontractors. We currently pay Iris around the £10k mark each year for the privelage of integration. When you use VT Accounts and FTax, do you have to complete (where necessary) the self employment pages manually or is there some sort of integration? I have worked out that we could save around £8k per year but I am afraid of jumping the Iris ship as I have been using it for 17 years!!

    I would be interested in your views as to whether or not VTAccounts / FTax is a good alternative and how do they cope with iXBRL and online filing at Companies House.

    Many thanks

  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    You can export a file from VT that imports to FTax but I don't use it because it takes seconds to fill in the s/e figures for most clients (once you've populated the database, the other details will appear in the form).

    I've heard a few people saying "if you can afford Iris, get it." I've never used it but I think if people are used to Iris, then VT/FT will feel like a clunky downgrade in comparison. You do get what you pay for, but I consider my software to be excellent value for money. I'm pretty sure I'd be delighted with something all-singing all-dancing like Iris, but whether I'd feel like I got as good value for money after forking out thousands, I'm not sure...

    iXBRL is fine. VT will soon be getting a CoHo link to file Abbrv directly, I believe, but for now I manually complete the CoHo PDF which takes all of 2 minutes.
  • Fingersan
    Fingersan Registered Posts: 84 ? ? ?
    Thank you Monsoon, I really appreciate your comments.

    I believe that it is always a good thing to keep an eye out on alternatives and I think this is an avenue I may explore in future.

    Once again, I appreciate your response.

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