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Online vs paper filing: your FAQs answered

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Filing advice

When I’m out of the office and talking to various professions and businesses, I regularly ask “what are the barriers in sending your accounts to us online?” and I’m often surprised by the responses.

Here are just a few of the more common ones:

I have always sent accounts in on paper, why should I change?

There are so many reasons why it’s better to file online but primarily it’s the security, speed, acknowledgement and confirmation of acceptance that makes online filing the number one choice.

I like accounts to look nice for my clients

You can use software to produce more aesthetically pleasing accounts for your clients and iXBRL does allow this, all we require is the financial information for the public record.

I use the signature on accounts as my authority

There are various forms of electronic signature available on the market; however, for your own records, client signature can be easily dealt with by running off a paper copy and getting it signed off, or even more sensibly, by sending an electronic copy to your client for approval in the first instance.

We’re reluctant to invest in accounts preparation software

Software does vary in price but the more documents you file, the more appropriate software filing is likely to be. You should consider which features you need and make sure that the software package you choose is the right one for you. Alternatively, you can use our WebFiling service, obtaining an authentication code is a quick and simple process.

Dormant accounts are much easier to do on paper

Online dormant accounts look better, they’re more professional and can take only minutes to produce. The rejection rates and the sets of accounts deemed defective by complainants is significantly higher for paper accounts than with e-submissions. As a result, it makes sense to use the inbuilt validation provided by software and WebFiling to reduce your chance of errors.

There are also reputational considerations

Clients like to know that their accounts have arrived, so with the speed at which we’re able to process and place electronically submitted accounts on the public record, you’ll be able to reassure them almost immediately that they're filed up to date. Further to this, credit reference agencies and similar organisations closely monitor submission of accounts and with processing times for paper being significantly longer than e-submissions, it can appear that a set of accounts has not been filed with us, or have not been filed on time. We do of course make every effort to process all documents as promptly as possible, but there’s always going to be a time delay between receipt and the placing of paper documents on the public register.

This is just an overview to cover and counter some of the reasons I hear most often but I hope that this will reinforce the view that online filing of accounts is, wherever possible, the best way to send them to us.

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