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Paul, pickleball and pandemic accounting

  • 6 min read
  • 23 Oct 2020
Paul, pickleball and pandemic accounting

It’s that time again where we’re getting to know the TaxScouts accountants! You may have read our sit down with Marcus, our first ever accountant on the platform.

If you haven’t, take a look at the full article here

But we’re not here to talk about Marcus. We’re here to talk about Paul, our accountant who specialises in tax on foreign income. We caught up with him in the summer about how he came to work at TaxScouts, how we could close the tax education gap in the UK and, of course, some weird and wonderful expenses claims. 

The journey to accounting

It was that long ago since I started. I think I got into accounting because my father did it, you see. I was originally going into leisure and tourism but I just fell into accounting. There wasn’t any particular reason why I chose it.

Then after “falling into” accountancy, I found that it was a great way to understand how different businesses worked. Using the knowledge that I’d gained over the years, I was able to help businesses to grow, assisting them with various business decisions such as funding.

In terms of working at TaxScouts, it was actually something just to fill in a bit of extra time in between my other work. I hadn’t heard about you guys before but then I went on Google and found it and thought with you being a relatively new business, it was something exciting that I wanted to be a part of. 

In terms of working at TaxScouts, it was actually something just to fill in a bit of extra time in between my other work.

What I like about the TaxScouts setup is that a lot of the information is collected for you rather than you having to spend all your time chasing and getting it from the client. I mean like their personal details and the majority of the information that they need to pay their tax return. That takes up a lot of your time normally, so if you’re not having to do that, that’s where you can cover it for the fee that you charge. Obviously you still have to go backwards and forwards to get all the bits and bobs, but all the information is already provided. 

Tell us about you

I grew up in Papua New Guinea. When I was two weeks old, I moved over there with my parents because my father went to work there with a firm of accountants. I lived over there until I was about eight. After that, we moved back to the UK. 

I live in Birkdale, Southport in the North West of UK and have run my own accounting business with my father for over 10 years. In 2019, I went to work for a business providing support to small to medium sized businesses with their accounting and finance departments, and this is based in the British Virgin Islands.

Living abroad

Most of my business is based overseas. Part of me doing work there means that I meet up with UK expats that I can assist with doing their UK tax returns, but I also help small to medium-sized businesses with their financial functions. 

Actually, most of my clients are based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) – and I spend a lot of my time over there. I take my family there on holiday, and maybe when the kids have grown up I can make the BVI more of a permanent home but at the moment it’s nice just being here. I actually quite like living in the UK. I don’t know why I like it, but it’s home. 

Pickleball and the pandemic

I usually work from home anyway, so the only thing I have missed out on is seeing my clients overseas. I usually see them at least once a month and I haven’t been able to go over there since March. The main change in the pandemic has been trying to do the homeschooling and keeping the kids entertained. 

Actually, most of my clients are based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) – and I spend a lot of my time over there.

We’ve got into garden sports. I found some smaller games of tennis online. There’s one called pickleball that we’ve started learning, and we’ve also been getting into badminton. They’re just games that we can play in the garden since we had such nice weather. We’re also getting into kayaking and cycling! You just go a bit stir crazy if you don’t. I have two kids who are 13 and 10 and they coped with lockdown really well, but there wasn’t much you could do about it either way. You just had to get on with it. 

We did have quite a few trips planned this year – and it would have been lovely to have gone camping with this lovely weather. I like going up to the Lake District and to Cornwall – although Cornwall is a bit of an epic of a journey to get down to from Southport – but for camping, it’s really nice. We’ve got a cocker spaniel who’s two years old (who is a bit of a nutter, but I think most of them are…) and there’s lots of stuff to do with the dog. 

Anyway, as I said, there’s no point in moping. You just have to get on with it. 

The tax education gap

I think that probably the HMRC website needs to dumb things down a bit:

  • Make the terminologies a bit simpler
  • The wording can be quite confusing, especially if you’re using the user guides

But there are that many different areas for HMRC to cover that it would be a big task to simplify everything. So it can seem quite daunting doing a tax return but they are relatively simple to do.

One of my clients – who worked as a builder – once tried to expense a Louis Vuitton handbag. He was trying to put it through as his tool bag. It was around £300/£400.

When it comes to doing your tax bill, just make sure that you record every single invoice that you get. I quite like using a business account – so having one bank account for your business and just paying for everything through that. Also using some kind of accounting software is useful too. If you use several bank accounts and draw cash out of the cash machine and you don’t keep all of your receipts, it’s hard to claim for things that you don’t have proof for.

Weird and wonderful expenses

One of my clients – who worked as a builder – once tried to expense a Louis Vuitton handbag. He was trying to put it through as his tool bag. It was around £300/£400.

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