Lights. Camera. Accountant. ACTION!

Life behind the scenes at the recent Blitz Gooday photo shoot

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By Shabba Nazir, Accounting Ninja

 
Getting our ducks in a row…

Getting our ducks in a row…

Over the past months we’ve been working on updating our ‘brand’. We want to give Blitz Gooday’s communications a completely new look that’s more in line with what we do (and what we’re like). This new look has already appeared on our website and across some of our social media channels (check it out at facebook.com/blitzgooday and instagram.com/blitzgooday). Once we’d decided what our new branding theme would look like, we needed some images to reflect this… and from this, the first Blitz Gooday photoshoot was born.

So, on Tuesday 30th April, at a Studio in Canning Town, I got to spend the day out of the office being a photographer’s assistant which, may I add, is a highly important role! With studio, models, and photographers booked, a shooting script agreed and plenty of slightly unusual props to hand, we were ready to commence.

We kicked off by arranging the studio space, setting up cameras & lights and preparing props. This meant, among other things, building a desk, steaming a doctor’s coat, sticking a gift tag onto some dynamite and lining up some (rubber) ducks. Definitely not your average photoshoot, then.

Tricks of the trade… my secret life as a prop dangler

Tricks of the trade… my secret life as a prop dangler

I took charge of organising each shot sequence, letting the models and photographers know what the brief for the shot called for e.g. “For this shot, you’ll need to ride a child’s scooter towards the camera while wearing welding goggles and trying to catch a floating brain with a butterfly net.” Then I’d locate the squidgy brain / fake lobster / other assorted weird items as required for the picture. As one sequence was being photographed, I would get the next sequence ready by placing the props. This ensured that there was a quick transition between shots, so that we used our time effectively - time really is money in the studio as everything is charged by the hour.

The morning shoot involved all the seated photographs, as these all used the desk. The script for the afternoon called for some of our wackier props, so over lunch we inflated the space hopper, balloons and kayak (the huge size of the kayak took us by surprise but thankfully it did come with a pump), dusted the lobster, and tried to get the scooter to stay in one piece.

The photo shoot team (except John Price, Epcot Images, who is behind the camera).

The photo shoot team (except John Price, Epcot Images, who is behind the camera).

I also got to be a part of the shots (out of frame unfortunately). I was responsible for levitating some of the props so that John, the photographer, could get the ideal photograph. You’ll be amazed at how much coordination goes into getting the perfect shot. Everything had to positioned correctly within the frame and sometimes our props had a mind of their own. For the most part I was dangling a brain or a balloon while balancing on a wooden block.  Although my role was out of frame on the actual shots, a kayak isn’t your everyday item, so even I couldn’t pass on the opportunity of being photographed in one.  There were also photographs involving a model on a scooter trying to catch a brain, a model on a space hopper being blown away by a wind machine, plus plenty of other images using our weird and wonderful props.

Amanda, one of our Blitz Gooday Financial Ninjas, dropped by during the day, to have a new headshot taken for our website. Somehow, we convinced her to have a bit of a bounce on the space hopper for the camera. Judging from the picture, it may have been more fun than double-entry book-keeping (who would have thought it?)

It was brilliant productive day out of the office and lots of fun too. We took loads of photographs throughout the day. These are being edited by the photographers - keep an eye out on our social media channels for them.

Thanks to Murial and Agit from Models Direct, John from Light Fantastic Imaging for photographing them, and the other John from Epcot Images for shooting the behind-the-scenes pics.

Amanda discovers that dropping by for a headshot can lead to unexpected things…

Amanda discovers that dropping by for a headshot can lead to unexpected things…

 

MTD – What is it and should I be worried?

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Does the mention of the letters “MTD” make you feel uneasy or give you sleepless nights?  What is changing?  What should I be doing?

Don’t panic!  Check out the position now and there is still time to take action.

What is MTD?

MTD (or making tax digital to give it its full name) is part of the government’s plan to encourage the keeping of digital records and digital communications with the aim to make HMRC’s job easier and to bring in more taxes by reducing errors on tax returns.

MTD for VAT is being rolled out first.  You don’t need to worry about it applying to any other taxes yet.  But aren’t we already submitting our VAT returns digitally?  Most of us haven’t filled out a paper form in years.  If your annual turnover is below the VAT threshold of £85,000 you can carry on as you are and stop reading now.  The rest of us, however, have a new set of rules to follow.

The rules tell us we must keep digital records and submit returns to HMRC using ‘functional compatible’ software.  We will no longer be allowed to log into that familiar HMRC portal and type the numbers directly into the boxes of the quarterly return.  

So, what is functional compatible software? 

This is software that stores data digitally and has a two way communication system with HMRC.   If you use an up-to-date cloud-based accounting package then this will probably be OK.  Check that it is on the list of approved software at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/find-software-thats-compatible-with-making-tax-digital-for-vat.

Xero, Quickbooks, Kashflow and Sage Business Cloud all produce compliant software – just check with your supplier that you are using the right version. 

How about if I use spreadsheets to keep my accounts? 

A spreadsheet on its own, whilst being digital, does not contain the necessary two way communication.  You have two options.  One is to use ‘bridging software’.  This is a piece of software that provides a digital link between your spreadsheets and HMRC.  You can find details of compliant bridging software by following the same link mentioned before.  Alternatively, you could move to an appropriate cloud based accounting package.

If your records are paper based then you have probably already concluded that you will need to make some big changes!  The best starting point is to talk to your accountant.  They should be able to recommend a suitable solution – perhaps an accounting package they can help set you up with, or they may offer to take the bookkeeping off your hands. 

As a last resort it may be worth considering whether it is worth applying for an exemption.  HMRC accept that it may not be practical for a small number of people to keep digital records for reasons of age, disability, location or religion.  However, it is thought that if you currently file your VAT returns using the HMRC portal then you will probably not qualify for this.

Are there any benefits to me? 

It sounds like a lot of work.  The up side of the new regulations is that many people are finding that the new accounting software they have adopted is actually helping their business in unforeseen ways.  Quotes can be sent out quickly from the mobile apps that many of the systems incorporate, accelerating new business, and customers pay quicker when they are given the facility to pay their invoice by card.  Administration time is reduced and it is easier to keep track of your profits.

When does MTD start? 

The rules come into play for your VAT quarter starting on or after 1 April.  This means VAT returns for quarters up to 31 May can be produced the old way.  The first VAT quarter that is mandatory under MTD is 1 April to 30 June.  This gives us a little breathing space left to make sure we have the right systems in place.  Don’t forget though, that your accounting data for the entire quarter will need to be incorporated into your new system so it’s best to sort this out sooner rather than later so you don’t fall to far behind with your bookkeeping. 

Is there anything else I need to do? 

You need to register for MTD with HMRC at   https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-up-for-making-tax-digital-for-vat.  Have your VAT number, government gateway ID and password to hand.  Sign up at least one week before you plan to file your first MTD VAT return.  (If you currently pay your VAT by direct debit avoid signing up 7 days before or 5 days after a VAT return is due).   Beware though of signing up too early.  Make sure you have filed your final VAT return under the old system before registering or you may accidently early adopt!

What if I get it wrong? 

There is a penalty framework although HMRC is expected to be lenient during the first year provided a reasonable effort has been made to comply with the rules.  If you can’t manage to submit your first VAT return on time under the new system, make sure you at least pay your VAT before the deadline.  This will avoid a monetary penalty for late filing which is based on a percentage of the outstanding tax.

Who can I ask for help? 

HMRC have plenty of help pages, and even a video showing you how to register for MTD.  Do also ask your accountant and your software provider who will be geared up for this.  Keep an eye on our blog for more information.