VA’s need to be registered when they:
- Advertise bookkeeping services
- Receive referrals for bookkeeping services
- Aim to make a profit providing bookkeeping services
- Provide these services with reasonable continuity
Many VA’s have bookkeeping and/or financial administration on their website – and when we look at the rules, this falls within “accounting services” even though they are not marketing themselves as accountants.
So why should you care whether your VA is registered or not? Is it not just their problem?
The biggest issue falls if there is an error in what they are doing, if they make a mistake, and you are then fined by HMRC, it is likely that their insurance (if they have it – BTW you should make sure your VA had professional indemnity insurance too!) will not pay out and you’ll be stung for their mistakes.
The second issue, for me, is that, if they are not complying with the law, then are they being lax in other areas, either with their own business (eg insurance) or yours..
So what, if anything, can a non-registered VA do in relation to your numbers?
Well, let’s look at the definition of “accounting services” as defined by HMRC…
“Accountancy services cover recording, reviewing, calculating and reporting on financial information for other people”
They also say that “typing an invoice” is not covered by the definition, and neither is credit control as long as the record of the payment is not being entered by the VA (if it is, then that IS accounting services)
So how do you know if your VA is registered?
Well the only way is to ask them! HMRC maintain a register, but it is not public record.
But if they are registered they will have been given a registration number (remember if they are a member of a bookkeeping or accounting professional body then they don’t need to register – a few are members)
So is your VA compliant?
Do they even know about this law (which is nothing new – it’s over 10 years old!)?
Are YOU covered?
In my opinion, the best thing, is to make sure that ANYONE, working on the numbers in your business is professionally qualified (after all, I don’t let an unqualified electrician near my fuse box!)