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Every business needs a


Bentley by Roger Linn


There has never been a time when small businesses, whether they are partnerships, limited companies or sole traders, have needed fi nancial guidance more.


I 18


n these uncertain economic times, it sometimes seems that the best plan is simply to do nothing new – to stand still for fear of rocking the boat. And yet we know that no business can afford to stagnate. In such circumstances and just to continue the nautical metaphor,


it is vital that a business has a competent skipper to steer it through the choppy waters of austerity. That’s where Steve Bentley comes in. Bentley’s, the accountancy practice he founded in Haywards Heath some six years ago, has made something of a speciality of delivering the kind of sound, insightful – but above all practical – advice that helps businesses move forward. And with many such enterprises from right across the spectrum of industries in Sussex as his clients, Steve is hugely experienced in the problems faced by


SUSSEX LIVING March 2012


small business. He brings a unique perspective to the management of company fi nance and taxation, and because he runs a successful business himself, he understands the issues. I met Steve the day after all our personal tax returns had to have been fi led, so it seemed appropriate to discuss tax issues. “There’s no doubt,” Steve observed, “that the Inland Revenue has become much more industrious in pursuing things like late submission of tax returns. And the penalties these days are much more severe. There was a time when you couldn’t be penalised for more money than you owed in tax – not any more. Now you will be fi ned for a late submission, even if you don’t owe the Revenue anything in tax!” The fi nes available to the tax authorities are quite scary. For an individual, the rates are £100 for being


a day late, followed by £10 a day after 3 months, a further £300 after six months and so on. Ultimately, sending in your tax return six months late could cost you at least £1,300 and if you are in a partnership, each partner has to pay the penalty. For Limited Companies, being six months late in fi ling your Financial Statements with Companies House costs £ 1,500. VAT return’s also have high penalties for late payments and submissions. If you are paying tax, then the case for having a focused and proactive tax specialist like Steve Bentley in your corner is inescapable, especially when you consider that there are a number of schemes like the VAT Flat Rate Scheme designed specifi cally to help small businesses pay their tax. It’s the sort of knowledge that Steve has at his fi ngertips. As he points out, “it’s hard enough trying to make a profi t without always having to worry about the tax position. I let my clients get on with doing what they do best, which is running their businesses, while I obtain the best possible tax position for them.”


The role of advising businesses rather than simply doing their accounts is a key part of the Bentley’s


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