United Kingdom Corporate Accountancy

Accountancy services in the United Kingdom exist to support one of the world's largest financial centres. Accountancy and related services are well-regulated, generally highly efficient but are also very costly in international terms. 

In the United Kingdom bookkeeping can be done by any person and this is a service offered by accountants and is usually billed by the hour. Depending on complexity clients may prefer to handle the bookkeeping themselves whereas others may prefer to appoint accountants either in the UK or elsewhere.

Credit Control
In the UK credit control can be done by any person however debts are generally enforced by specialist private companies operating in this area. Accountants in the UK can be appointed to deal with credit control and usually bill by the hour.

Preparation of Accounts
Accounts can be prepared by any person but most clients prefer to leave this to accountants (whether in the UK or elsewhere). If UK companies must prepare audited accounts it is generally advisable to engage accountants to prepare the accounts and provide the audit to avoid duplication of work. The fees for accounts and audit in the UK are fairly high but all work except the audit can be outsourced to cheaper countries.

If an audit is required (please see here for the current threshold) this must be provided by a UK firm in most circumstances. The costs are reasonably high and the work usually cannot be outsourced. If a European company with significantly cheaper accounts and audit fees is desired Malta may be considered however it provides no audit exemption. If a UK audit is required and the accounts are relatively straightforward it may be beneficial to keep the accounting in the UK to avoid duplication of work.

Payroll services are generally provided by either accountants or the company providing formation services. The cost for UK payroll is fairly low in an international context but personal taxes and national insurance rates are very high. 

Value Added Tax (VAT) Registration and Administration
VAT is a European-wide sales tax. As an EU member the UK is part of the European Value Added Tax (VAT) system which makes possible the registration of both UK and foreign companies for UK VAT. VAT registration in the UK is not a quick process and an applicant should allow between two to three months for a straightforward case (though registration can be as fast as one month in rare cases). Since VAT registration is permitted in any EU country it may be beneficial to register in a smaller and faster member state such as Malta (where registration takes around one week).  VAT registration in one EU country means (in most cases) that VAT will not be charged by or to other EU countries under the reverse charge mechanism this means that VAT will not be a cost. The VAT rate in the UK is 20%.

UK accountants and auditors can provide valuations of business capitalization, flotation, loan financing or other purposes.

Tax Advice
UK accountants are competent to give advice on local taxation issues but may also be part of a network of advisors who can give consideration to multinational tax matters. This area is addressed in more detail in our main article on advice in the UK.