Accounting, Accounting, Accounting

The title hasn’t scared you off? Good! As you can imagine, last Friday was… memorable. In that it has left scars. But it’s all part of the process and has to be done sadly. Still, it’s a learning experience.

Payroll is dumb. Alright, it means I can actually pay people… and myself, but it’s dumb. It seems like, in the UK at least, the purpose of payroll is to convince you that you need an accountant. It damn well near convinced me! Let me explain.

The first thing you need is to sign up for PAYE (pay as you earn). This is a government tax process, that allows you to slowly give up all willpower and succumb to the dark. If that isn’t your kind of thing, then it has the secondary benefit of allowing you to pay tax to the government each time you pay someone. This means that you don’t have to pay all your tax in one lump sum at the end of the year, and bankrupt yourself because you’re bad with money.

To sign up, you need a tax reference, that was given to you when you founded your company… Unless your business address is a law firm rather than your home address, as using your home address is ill-advised. Then, that letter sits at the law firm, and you have no idea that it exists and you’re desperately going around searching through every bit of paper in the house, from water bills to the entire collected works of Terry Pratchett… I may have gotten distracted during this process.

Eventually you may find the tax reference. Great. Then you need your Government Gateway ID, which you’ll probably get regenerated for your pleasure at some point during this process, leaving you with two seemingly non functional strings of numbers. They are in-theory, used to log into good ol’ HMRC. this probably will not work. Let’s skip on and assume you got past this roadblock and the several other roadblocks on HMRC, successfully signed up for PAYE, and waited the prerequisite month or so for them to mail out confirmations and whatnot. You’re doing well so far. Here’s a picture of the area we walked recently in the Peak District as a reward:

Lovely. Now, the next thing you need is payroll software. The Government is unwilling to provide a platform to do this, preferring instead to leave that happy power to the hundreds of finance companies, all of whom take some pride in making their costs as oblique as humanly possible, and are probably owned by MPs or friends of MPs. Free software exists, but it is mainly a tool to convince you to upgrade, often missing key features like pension contributions (a legal requirement for any business in the UK), or payslips (again, a legal requirement). In the end I found one of the least disgusting options, a payroll software that provides everything, but removes your ability to generate payslips after two months. I can probably draft up a payslip. The one it generated for me when I first successfully paid myself was laughably barren, so I’d prefer a different payslip anyway.

Then prepare yourself for about as much legal jargon as you can take. It seems like the last stage in convincing you to just employ an accountant is to describe the information you need to provide in as obtuse a way as possible. Fill in the boxes with a lot of help from google, first for the company, and next with employee information (make sure you have a GDPR compliance statement for your employees, as you’re storing their data!) and you might just be ready to run your first payroll. I managed to do this and… Well I *think* it worked. It had no fanfare or confirmation, but when I tried to run it again, it asked if I wanted to rerun my payroll. So… Yay? My payroll software doesn’t actually pay anyone, I don’t know if that’s universally true, but it meant the next step was actually paying myself. That’s the easy part. Now all I need to do is hope that everything worked and that the government aren’t going to shout at me!

Well done for making it this far. There isn’t much more to say. Last week was very productive, we made excellent progress with the SockMonkey work. I’ve also been working out the best way to run a coding livestream, we finally decided to go climbing again, provided the centre wasn’t too busy and as pictured earlier, we even found time for a walk! The rest of our time is currently dedicated to Valorant, which is slowly becoming an obsession. So with that in mind, I’m off to play a game. I mean, I’m going to sort out a pension scheme! One of those sounds less fun than the other. Work hard, play hard I guess.

It was good to get back on the walls!

Matt out.

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