Intuit QuickBooks was founded over 30 years ago with a mission to “improve people's financial lives so profoundly they can't imagine going back to the old way”. It does this by offering software products that enable small businesses, accountants and the self-employed to manage their finances online in a quick and easy way, automating all the accounting work they need to do.
Late last year, Intuit launched QuickBooks Self-Employed, a product tailored for the sector, which allows people who work for themselves to easily track self-employed income and expenses all in one place, estimate their tax return throughout the year and simplify year-end self-assessment.
John Midgley is the Senior Manager of Global Public Policy at Intuit, specialising in issues covering tax, financial services and technology policy, and believes this product is essential as the way the self-employed work has changed: “As Intuit began seeing more and more people become self-employed, we realised they needed something different from our original product. QuickBooks Self-Employed solves the very specific problems for this group and can answer questions such as: How much tax do I owe? How can I get it all together in one place?”
John adds that the software answers the tricky question of which expenses are and are not tax-deductible so the self-employed can maximise their tax savings. This is all automated, which minimises the time and effort spent managing their finances, so they can then concentrate more on making money.
Why did Intuit want to get involved with the IPSE Policy Conference? John explains: “We are seeing a fundamental shift in the technology people use. And this technology is changing the working lives of the self-employed. There are a number of issues currently in the policy environment that help drive or hinder this technological trend, and Intuit felt the conference was the right place for them to be addressed.”
One of the issues John is alluding to is the Government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) agenda. MTD has been welcomed by a majority – but many still do have doubts on whether this is the right way forward, with concerns over the HMRC proposal for the self-employed to undertake quarterly tax reporting from 2018.
If MTD is implemented correctly, it'll be the biggest shake-up in the tax system since the introduction of self-assessment.
John believes its introduction can go one of two ways: “If MTD only ends up increasing the compliance burden for the self-employed and the workload that comes with it, clearly it won’t have been a success. However, we believe HMRC is driving towards a goal of reducing this burden for the self-employed. It wants to make it easier for the self-employed, and their representatives, to deal with the department through technology. However, for this to happen it’s so important for HMRC to get the details right.”
Intuit wants to create products that will make the implementation of MTD as slick and as painless for all concerned, says John: “There have got to be solutions in the market that help the self-employed work in this new way. We’ll ensure that happens. A majority do already file their accounts online but many still use pen and paper or excel spreadsheets to manage their finances day to day. They will be the ones experiencing the change.”
John was one of the panellists in the IPSE Conference Tax System session. The panel discussed the benefits and challenges with MTD, and felt its implementation was a matter of when, not if. A good result for John and Intuit: Being on a very distinguished panel with a broad range of expertise really brought home how an awful lot of very smart people are now thinking about this – it can only help ensure we do get this right. But actually the highlight for me was probably being interrupted by Sue Lawley – that’s definitely been ticked off the bucket list!”
So what is Intuit’s message to IPSE members who do not file their accounts online? “Try out the software and see if it’s right for you. You can try the product for free, see if it can save you time and money and talk it through with your accountant before coming to a decision. And if it doesn’t work – at least it hasn’t taken a lot of effort.”
If MTD is implemented correctly, it’ll be the biggest shake-up in the tax system since the introduction of self-assessment. A snap poll at the IPSE Conference revealed 87% of those in the room were behind making tax digital. Yet as John stood at the back of the conference room, he noticed a member of the Audio Visual team filing an invoice in excel, and stated: “Guess there is still some way to go!”
IPSE members are eligible for a 50% discount on QuickBooks Self-Employed. You can find out more by visiting: http://www.intuit.co.uk/oa/quickbooks-accounting-software/self-employed/ipse/