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Money Talk: VAT returns are changing very soon: is your business prepared?

You may have heard the phrase Making Tax Digital (MTD) a few times in the last couple of years. Admittedly not the catchiest of terms, so far it hasn't had much impact outside the accounting journals in fact it's hardly caused much in the way of comment even in the business sections of the mainstream media. But all that is about to change in particular as far as the vast majority of VAT-registered businesses are concerned. Because from April 1, those businesses will face a change to how they produce and file VAT returns.

Money Talk: Don't worry, it's only the auditors and they offer genuine benefits

A year on from the meltdown at Carillion, quite apart from the immense fallout in practical terms, one consequence is that serious questions have been raised about the role of that company's auditors. The same questions have arisen after almost every subsequent corporate failure the latest being at Patisserie Valerie, where the company's owners discovered a large hole in their balance sheet just months after the annual accounts were signed off by their auditors. The powers that be have taken notice: the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), which is responsible for regulating auditors, is currently investigating several of the large audit firms involved in recent corporate failures; the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking at the dominance of the 'Big 4' accountancy firms in the UK; and there have been suggestions that the FRC itself may face a shake up.

Money Talk: Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to HMRC

There's a saying that there are two people with whom you should always be completely open and honest: your doctor and your lawyer. Of course, we'd add accountant to that select number particularly at this time of year. That's because while much of the business world seems to go into semi-hibernation for a few weeks in January, this is always a very busy month for accountants; dominated primarily by the need to ensure that clients' personal Self-Assessment Tax Returns (SATRs) all get filed by the 31st at the very latest. Naturally most accountants would prefer not to have all the SATR work in the last few weeks before deadline day, but there are always a few clients who just don't provide the information until the last minute or after.

Money Talk: We've had a rare outbreak of common sense...

At a time when the main news channels seem permanently occupied with the political quagmire around Brexit, it's tempting to believe that everything else in business and politics is in a state of paralysis and terminal decline. That may of course still be the case, but at least two recent pieces of news (granted, not exactly 'front-page' news) indicate that somewhere there are still people applying a little bit of common sense to the running of 'UK plc'.

Money Talk: Data, information - or what we call the 'Bigger Picture'

Petrol retailing is fundamentally a high-turnover, low-margin business. It isn't unique in that respect, of course, but it is somewhat unusual in that the major component of that turnover (fuel in case anyone has forgotten) is subject to almost daily price volatility and in the short term that includes the possibility of the price dropping. As with every other business, success depends on a combination of factors: demand, correct pricing, cost control and cash flow management being the key ones.

Money Talk: How an unrelated business on your premises could still affect yours

Money Talk: Decision time - should you stay with your oil co or should you switch?

Every five years or so, every independent dealer faces what is perhaps their biggest business decision: whether to renew a supply deal with their existing oil company or take a big gamble and change suppliers. But today there's often now a third option that comes up: put the site up for sale and just take the proceeds and enjoy retirement. For most, particularly genuine independents with just one or two sites, this really can be a difficult decision. They look at their business and have to decide how it's going to run for the next five years. And in our experience many of them make one fundamental mistake: they leave the decision-making process too late. Frequently this huge decision is actually made at the last moment, more often based on intuition or emotion than cold hard facts. Perhaps this is just down to their personal history of owning sites. There was a time when they might have had half-a-dozen potential suppliers vying with each other and the incumbent supplier to (almost literally) throw money at them to sign a supply deal.

Money Talk: Why it's hard accounting for the unexpected

Spare a moment for some sympathy for the BP dealers who've had two rather unfortunate experiences related to plastic money in recent months. First, at the end of May, many of them discovered that they owed the oil company significant amounts of money for Allstar card-handling charges over the previous three years. Then, in early July, they suffered a failure of EFT systems which caused complete chaos on around 1,000 forecourts. These things happen and not only to BP dealers, of course. While the immediate impact of either happening is pretty obvious they also have a later impact when it comes to trying to account for them in the site's records.

Money Talk: Holiday times can be stressful... so planning is vital

Money Talk: The knock-on effects of the continuing rise in pump prices

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 20 January 2020
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East Midlands132.93141.67128.44
North East131.55139.57126.67
North West132.1066.90140.54127.58
Northern Ireland129.82134.61125.46
South East133.80141.93129.03
South West132.9567.90139.13128.12
West Midlands132.7866.57142.07128.26
Yorkshire & Humber131.9963.90141.14127.34

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As Brexit day finally arrives at the end of January, are you expecting any negative impact on your forecourt business through leaving the EU?

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