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Ok, I admit since my last post about the Company Tax Return, nothing much has happened.

There are a couple of silly reasons for this. When I sent the CSV of my bank statements and Google checkout orders I assumed the accountant would be able to go from there.

After sometime, my accountant got back to me, very confused. He seemed to think that I wanted a personal tax return. No I want a Company Tax Return.

Then it seemed like they couldn't parse the CSVs I sent. I admit they are quite hard to read. So my accountant sent me a Cash Book template. After a couple of weeks I realised the document he sent me was an unreadable .xlsx format, which I was unable to open with Google Spreadsheets. I then asked for a .xls version and finally I could open the cashbook.xls template in Google docs. Phew.

So now I was entering Webconverger receipts and payments myself with 'expense type' notes. Very painful work I dreamt my accountant would do. I ordered all the statements from Barclays. They took more than a week to arrive and the print outs were quite odd. First batch looks like they came from a Unix machine. The latest statements were printed on what looks like a crap Windows machine. Finally I learnt I should import the CSVs into Google docs.

You can't currently import a CSV into your working Google docs document. You have to open a new document and then the copy from context menu was not working. After much frustration I learnt trusty ctrl+c and ctrl+v does work in Google docs. Fantastic.

After completing the Cash Book and feeling again quite pleased with the turnover of this 'opensource' company, namely Webconverger, I tried to work out exactly when Company Tax Return was required.

So in England there is a government service called Companies House who confusingly ask your company for an Annual Return every year. You pay them 15GBP to keep a few records of your UK business. In return Companies House provides you an ABYSMAL Web site. A site so bad that I know for a fact other government agencies can't be bothered to query it. I know this because the Company Tax Payment Reminder office in Shipley didn't seem to know the accounts return due date. I asked them why they had not checked with Companies House and I could feel their frustration...

Let me continue ranting by saying the Companies House Website is a bitch to navigate. The most interesting link is hidden on the right and it's called WebCHeck.

Here after waiting 30 seconds per request for me, you can enter 'Webconverger'. Then an obscene list of yellow entries with Web-something-or-other is presented. Fruitlessly try click Webconverger Limited on the very top of the page and give up. No, the secret after calling their helpline, is to click on the number in the left column. Head slap

Notice how the company information seems to fail to have additional useful information like a EU VAT ID. Honestly, Companies House sucks so bad. Ideally this public information should be available for search engines to trawl and index. Companies House Website is unbelievably offline between 12 and 7am. Isn't that just bizarre in the 21st century? What are they using for a back end? Punch cards?

Confusingly, I need to file two returns as my first year of trading was not a full year so HM Revenue & Customs cannot accept a return unless it's a full year has elapsed. Urf.

Next I needed to find out about VAT. Not paying VAT can wind you up in jail. So I better do this now since my returns are only due in September. Though I assumed that the HMRC Government gateway would email me reminders beforehand. Unfortunately they don't do this.

I thought I should be filing EC Sales lists (ECSLs) every quarter for supplies I've zero rated to EU customers. However in some of my notes it says I do not need to charge VAT on electronic supplies. Customised images are electronic downloads, so I have not submitted any ECSLs. However calling up the VAT helpline today, I was advised to submit ECSLs all the same. So I am a little confused and I need some help here.

HMCE_VAT_ESL_BULK_SUBMISSION_FILE,,,,,,
987654321,401,2005,1,GBP,A Bloggs,0
DE,123456789,750312,2,,,
FI,12345678,649,0,,,
FR,12345678901,62149,0,,,

Especially since some of my EU customers do not have EU VAT IDs. Or valid ones for that matter. One customer supplied a domestic VAT ID which the ECSL system would not take. Feck. The VAT helpline says if the Tax ID is invalid, Webconverger Limited must pay the taxes. Umm... oh dear. He then advised they I should confirm every EU VAT by calling 0151 7038720, because I cannot trust the 'Europa' Website, whatever that is. I have a feeling that EU VAT IDs are being abused, though I can't say for sure.

Earlier I've been advised I do not need to charge tax for US customers. So I have been only charging VAT for UK customers. Pity British customers, they seem to get the worst deal, especially since the GBP has devalued so much.

So right now I can't quite submit my VAT return completely as I am unsure with this electronics good stuff and the EU. Grr....

Just tried to log into VAT returns and confusingly I had to register again on the Government Website. On the main menu, it asks me to register for the New VAT Returns. WTF?!

UPDATE: After calling the VAT office, they initially wanted me to create a new login. I've done this before and I am not doing it again. Then the advisor conceded and said I should enrol on the 'New VAT returns' service via the Government Gateway. That went well since he walked my though the odd values like when and what I paid in my last VAT return. How am I supposed to remember??

Next I rang up ECSL people on 0151 7038720 and a lovely woman from Liverpool answered my queries. She said that since Webconverger does not trade in physical goods, I need to write in and tell the 'ESL compliance team' that I should be taken off the ECSL database. Aha!

She also advised when filling in the VAT returns to leave Box 8 blank otherwise the system might re-enroll Webconverger to the ECSL.