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Starting a window cleaning business - Equipment you need, suppliers to use and trade organisations to join, etc.

Advice on keeping accounts?

Posted by scwindowcleaning (scwindowcleaning), 27 November 2003
I've only just started window cleaning and am doing it part time. Has anyone got advice on keeping accounts. What receipts can you claim as a business expense? Could I claim a mobile phone and its monthly bill as a business expense? What about PC's? Who uses an accountant and have they saved you a lot of money?

Posted by pdhanson (Silly Philly), 27 November 2003
Hi scwindowcleaning, and welcome to the business.

I used to work for a chartered accountant, so I may be able to help you.

Keep your bookkeeping simple, well organised and up to date.  This will save you a fortune at the year end.

(An accountant will be able to sort out a grubby folder of random receipts, but you will pay through the nose for it)

Number each receipt and keep them all together in a folder in order. (wives/girlfriends come in handy here)

You will be able to claim a "fair" proportion of your mobile phone bills (as well as its cost), computer and office equipment as well as software, against tax, but you must be able to justify this if asked by the inland revenue.

(EG if you use you phone ONLY for business, then claim 100%.  If half business, 50%)

Motor expenses can be claimed at a flat rate of 40p per mile for the 1st 10,000 miles.

Personally I would ALWAYS recommend using a chartered accountant.  The cost will be from 150 - 300 per year plus VAT.  If you need to prove your income(to get a mortgage), or sell the business, no-one will even look at you without properly prepared accounts.  They'll do your tax return for you too for an extra 50 or so.

Here's a final tip: once you have more than 30 customers, get GEORGE.  This is software that will help you to schedule work, forecast income etc.  Its really handy. (though the financial reports are feeble)

Hope it all goes well!

The Silly One
Posted by scwindowcleaning (scwindowcleaning), 27 November 2003
Hi phil,

thanks for your reply.   Wink

Do you know what records I need to keep for my car? When claiming for mileage on my car do I just have to make a reasonable estimate, as it is not provable exactly how much mileage was used for window cleaning? Do you claim for car tax, petrol receipts, car insurance etc. on top the 40p/mile flat rate?

What was it like working for an accountants?
I am studying to become one.

Posted by pdhanson (Silly Philly), 28 November 2003
The 40p per mile is designed to cover all motoring expenses (petrol+insurance+tax etc) if you claim that, you cant claim any other motoring stuff.

Exact mileage records are not necessary, a reasonable estimate is ok, so long as you can justify it.  (Eg if you live 1 mile away from your round but claim 50 miles a week, they'll ask questions!)

Working for a firm of accountants, gosh well, stressful is the word.  Especially compared to window cleaning.  I was 2 years in practice (AAT) and one year in industry for a big company.  

The firm was quite large as accountants go (30 partners, 220 staff) Expect to lose your job if you fail an exam more than once. (I always passed first time of course)

Also, you'll be earning a pitance (<13k for south, <11k for north england) until your qualified with a couple of years post qual experience.

Maybe you'll enjoy more than me!
Posted by Fox (Fox), 28 November 2003
come on silly philly - accounts ain't that bad!!

It's now 45p per mile - whether you own your vehicle or not depends at the value of your P11D.  Company vehicle or not? If you have a van defo worth being company at 500 per year - more than three yrs old only 300 - car different matter.

Accountants make enough money as it is - keep your books tidy less charge!

Posted by matt (matt), 4 December 2003
I am keep all petrol reciepts, for my car and my works estate car, as i use both, 1 for work and the other for meeting customers and collecting

so if i will only get 45p a mile, its not worth keeping reciepts then Huh??

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