Should You Panic If You Have No Books To Give Your Accountant?

Ray Stewart Bookkeeping, Business, Tax Matters Leave a Comment

This is a question that rears its head from time to time here in the office.  My initial reaction is “Why not?”.

Occasionally there is a reasonable reason for the lack of evidence of someone’s business activities.  It may be that the business has grown really quickly and they haven’t been able to keep up.  They may have only just started the business and don’t know the first thing about bookkeeping and are seeking help.  Sometimes there has been a known disaster such as a major flood or a fire.  However, sometimes a person thinks they are being clever in deliberately not keeping records so they pay little or no tax.

My reaction to this question will completely depend upon the circumstances as to why a business owner has no records.  If it is genuine, I will move heaven and earth to help them reconstruct whatever is missing or destroyed and will then stand with them, side by side during a tax investigation, if necessary, to explain what and how we have done the reconstruction.

I will never act for a client who chooses not to keep adequate records of their business activities.  I deal with HM Revenue & Customs all the time and I will never put my professional reputation on the line for any shady character.  Unfortunately, there are accountants who will deal with these people and if they get away with it for a few years before HMRC catch up with them they broadcast their cleverness all around the area.  This can make genuine, honest people doubt that what they are doing is right if this character gets away with it.  The flip side is that they are always found out.  It may take 1 year or 20 years, but they will be called to account eventually.  With all the resources of HMRC and the bounty offered to anyone who shops these characters, they never get away with it.

Ignorance of the law has never been an excuse for lack of records.  Anyone in business knows they may have to pay tax and should inform the authorities when they start their business.  These days there is an unprecedented level of help, information, advice, packages, coaches, accountants, bookkeepers, marketers and consultants both paid and free for the new and established business owner alike.

So… if in doubt about any aspect of business or the requirement for keeping records – ask!!


Ray Stewart
I am a qualified Certified Practising Accountant having passed my final exams way back in 1981. I actually can’t believe that was 37 years ago!! Anyway, I am now in my 60’s and I have been running my own business since May 1983. And before you ask, no, I have never regretted a moment of it! Part of the membership requirements of my professional body now dictate that I spend quite a lot of time on “CPD” - continuing professional education (one of their better ideas) - and over the last two years I decided to study business growth and marketing. I have learnt such a lot and that knowledge has radically changed my old “accountants” approach to business. It has made such a difference to the way I work and operate I feel that I just have to pass on this knowledge. It is simply too powerful to hold back!! - but I will try and do it in simple terms rather than expecting you to spend hours, as I had to, working through the difficult language that trainers seem to use to pass on their concepts. I hope you find the blog a useful resource and interesting place to visit as the months pass. I will do my best to keep up the flow - but if there are any topics you would like me to cover, then please let me know. Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart

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