Financial concept

Why are Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet important?

Financial concept

Analysing financial statements allows small business owners to know the health of their company and make sure it stays on track.

A Profit and Loss (P&L) account and a balance sheet are financial statements that record the actual results of your business activities. In this article, our small business accountants look to discuss them in detail and highlight why these financial statements are the health indicators of your small business.

Profit & Loss (P&L)

A P&L account has a few other names: an income statement, a statement of earnings, or a statement of operations. Usually produced monthly, it contains what your business has earned versus what you have spent for the particular time period.

A P&L usually has these five components:

  • Revenue from sales and other forms of income
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS), the accumulated costs to acquire or create the products (or services) you sell
  • Gross profit (revenue minus GOGS)
  • Expenses, these can be payroll, rent, insurance and office stationery
  • Net profit or net loss (gross profit minus expenses)

Lessons from your P&L

Use gross profit to enhance your efficiency

Gross profit refers to the difference between your sales revenue and cost of goods sold and a useful indicator of efficiency. If you are a retailer, the cost of goods sold would be your cost of merchandise or cost of services.

When your gross profit is high, it means your business is keeping more money from each sale. In other words, it is efficiently managed.

If your gross profit is low, then you need to find the reasons and take actions. For example:

  • Can you ask your raw material suppliers for a discount?
  • Can you lower the production cost through streamlining your production process?
  • Can you lower your delivery cost by switching to a different courier company?

If you are in retail, you may not pay much attention to gross profit but focus on net profit margin which we will cover next.

Use net profit margin to determine profitability

While gross profit offers an insight to the efficiency of the business pertaining to its use of labour, raw material and other supplies, net profit is used to determine your company’s profitability, meaning how much money your business is actually making after expenses.

The formula to calculate net profit margin is to have net income divided by revenue x 100. Here is a quick example:

  • Your revenue is £10,000 and your cost of goods sold is £3,000. This means your gross profit is £7,000.
  • Your rent, utilities, insurance, marketing, office supplies add up to £5,000.
  • Gross profit £7,000 – expenses £5,000 = net profit £2,000.
  • Your net profit margin is £2,000 / £10,000 = 0.2; you multiple this number by 100 to get a percentage, which is 20%.

You want the net profit margin figure to be high because it means:

  • Your business is selling products or services that are popular
  • Your marketing effort is reaching to the right audience
  • Your price structure is right
  • Your expenses are controlled
  • Your business is profitability

If an unfavourable event occurs, like customers no longer find your products or services relevant or your advertisements do not reach the right target audience, then chances are your net profit margin will decrease accordingly.

To have a healthy and profitable business, talk to a qualified and experienced small business accountant like us and let us work with you to review the numbers. Use data to guide your decision making. For example, the numbers will tell you which items are low-performing and you may want to terminate them, or controlling costs by moving to a smaller office will immediately show an impact. Other factors to consider may include raising prices on the best-selling items, trying a new marketing campaign, building better relationships with your customers, to name but a few.

Balance sheet

Giving you a snapshot of what a business owns versus what it owes at a specific point in time, a balance sheet is also an indicator of the financial health of your company.

A balance sheet consists of three things, namely assets, liabilities and owner’s equity. Let’s take a look at each one.


Assets are all items of value that a business owns. Assets are further divided into current and non-current.

Current assets are cash and other items which can be converted into cash within the next 12 months. For example, you sell to client A and you expect them to pay you next month and this receivable is considered as part of your current assets.

Non-current assets, as the name suggest, refer to items of value that cannot be converted into cash quickly. They include equipment, vehicles and goodwill, to name but a few.


Obligations which a business must fulfil are considered liabilities. Liabilities are also further divided into current and non-current liabilities.

Current liabilities are obligations which the business is expected to pay within the next 12 months. Generally they include short-term loans, stock purchases, credit card debts, payable tax to HMRC, among others.

Non-current liabilities are obligations which the business cannot settle within the next 12 months. An example is a long-term loan.

Owner’s equity

Also known as net assets or book value, owner’s equity indicates what you the business owner can claim to the company’s assets after all liabilities are paid off. This amount does not necessarily represent the fair value of a business, hence the name book value. Retained earnings are often included in this section and they refer to left over profits made in previous years.

Lessons from your balance sheet

Determine how is the business being funded

If you take total liabilities divided by total assets, you will get what is called a debt to total assets ratio. You want this number to be low as it means the company is less dependent on debtors to operate. Accordingly, a high debt to total assets ratio means the company depends on borrowed money and money owed to others to survive.

Compare periods and see if you’re doing better or worse

Compare the numbers between two selected periods will unveil if the company’s performance has improved or not. For example, as your business progresses, ideally it should accumulate more assets (like cash) to fuel its growth.

Check if your business can pay its bills

If you take the total of current assets divided by the total of current liabilities, you have a liquidity ratio. Assuming your total current assets are £20,000 and your total current liabilities are £10,000, you get a ratio of 2. This means you have £2 to cover every £1 owed, enough cash or items of value to cover your debt obligations. If the ratio is low, you need to act immediately before the business sinks further into debts.

The ability to meet an unexpected event

The formula for debt to equity ratio is total liabilities divided by equity. This figure tells you how much debt the business has versus the amount invested by you the business owner. If the number is high, it means your company has a great financial risk and may not be ready should an unexpected event happens.

Work with an accountant to review the numbers

If you are a small business owner, chances are you already have an accountant working with you to review the numbers of your financial statements and support your company to grow.

Your accountant should not be someone whom you only see once a year. They should be working you regularly and helping you to understand how you can use numbers to make shrewd business decisions that will increase the value of your company and help it grow. This is how our team of chartered accountants for small businesses at Berley operates. We talk to you, understand your circumstances, look at data, and use numbers from your financial statements to analyse key questions such as:

  • How much sales do you need to cover your expenses?
  • How do you know your business is operating profitability?
  • If your business is recording net losses, what counter-measures can you take immediately?
  • How much working capital should you retain in your company?
  • Is your investment yielding a good return?
  • If you are selling products, do you know how quickly they turn over?
  • How long does it take for your clients to pay you?
  • Are your expenses under control?
  • How do you compare to your industry peers?

Our objective is to help your business become profitable and grow, because we believe in mutual benefits – when you grow, we will grow too. So call us on 020 7636 9094 or use our Online Form to arrange a no-obligation meeting and find out what Berley can help to analyse your financial statements.

Berley is here to assist small businesses in London

For over 30 years, Berley has helped entrepreneurs and small business owners across London grow and flourish by strengthening their financial health.

We offer a complete range of tax and accounting services:

  • Tax advice, planning and efficiency – Our tax experts keep you up-to-date with your tax obligations. We also look at how your business can lower its tax responsibilities legally, giving your business more cash to operate and thrive.
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) – VAT is a consumption tax on the sale of most goods and services, and PAYE refers to an income tax deducted from a salary before an employee receives it. With the assistance of our VAT and PAYE services team, we provide thorough and professional services that meet your business needs.
  • Payroll services – Berley’s outsourced payroll services are here to streamline your payroll process while adhering to the latest rules and regulations. By outsourcing your payroll function to us, you are likely to see a reduction in cost as you do not need to pay for a full-time payroll administrator.
  • Management accounts – Often featuring executive summary, cash summary, profit and loss report, balance sheet, aged receivable and aged payable, well-prepared management accounts give you well-rounded insights to your business’s performance.
  • Bookkeeping – Accounting and bookkeeping functions should not be a burden or slow down your progress, so let Berley step in to provide a bookkeeping service that matches your needs.
  • Company audit – Essentially a health check process, a company audit can identify potential areas of weakness and new opportunities, thereby improving profitability and business efficiency.
  • Completing tax returns – We help you submit your tax returns in a timely and efficient manner, ensuring that you only pay what is required for a business of your type and size.

In addition, we can also help you with more detailed aspects of your business such as:

  • Sourcing and applying for business funding
  • Dealing with any international operations you may have
  • Restructuring your business when necessary
  • Working with you to create investment strategies
  • Offering advice on retirement planning

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This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Many businesses are effected by COVID-19

The support that businesses can get during this COVID-19 pandemic

Many businesses are affected by COVID-19

The UK government has announced a string of measures to help businesses and self-employed individuals. Learn what support you can get here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent shock waves through the business community in the UK. Many companies and self-employed individuals are affected and wondering where to get help. At Berley, we continue to operate as normal, albeit remotely. If you have questions pertaining to any of the schemes announced by the government, please get in touch – our name, email addresses and telephone numbers are listed at the end of this page.

Government to pay up to 80% of wages

Known as Coronavirus job retention scheme, this measure aims to help employers to retain staff.

For example, if you are a pub owner, you are required to shut the pub and as a result, you have to furlough your employees. In this case, the government asks you to continue paying your staff and you can then make a claim from the government amounting to 80% of their furloughed salary, National Insurance and minimum automatic employer pension. The maximum amount you can claim is £2,500 per employee per month.
A few important points are:

  • You must write to your employees confirming that they have been furloughed.
  • The furloughed employees must not work. If you have them working on reduced hours or reduced pay, they will not be qualified for this scheme.
  • The government plans to have the grant available by the end of April, although the grant can be backdated to March.
  • Once the government portal is made available, you can submit the information of your furloughed employees and their wages.
  • HMRC will then reimburse 80% of wages of these furloughed workers, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • This scheme is temporary and is open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020.
  • Please refer this page for more information pertaining to this scheme.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

If your business does not have enough cash to tide it over during this period, consider getting a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

  • There are 40 accredited lenders (including major banks) offering this scheme.
  • You can access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
  • While you must repay the loans, the government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees to help small businesses.
  • To be eligible, you must be a UK-based business with a turnover of less than £45 million per year. Your business must also meet the other British Business Bank eligible criteria.
  • To apply, talk to your bank now. Alternatively, talk to one of the accredited lenders available on the British Business Bank website.

Deferring VAT

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. If your business is VAT-registered, you can defer VAT for three months (between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020).

It must be noted that you have to continue submitting your VAT returns to HMRC on time. You can pay the VAT due as normal or you can defer the payment until a later date without penalties.

Deferring Income Tax payments

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. If you are self-employed, your Income Tax Self-Assessment payments (originally due on 31 July 2020) will be deferred to 31 January 2021. No penalties for late payment will be charged during the deferral period.

Statutory Sick Pay relief

Applicable to UK-based small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020), this relief covers up to 2 weeks’ Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. How it works is that you (the employer) will have to reclaim expenditure for any employee who claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19. The process to which you can reclaim is still being developed.

A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure businesses in England

If your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector, your local council will automatically re-issue your bill which will exclude the business rate charge for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. For more information, see this guide.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • As shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • For assembly and leisure
  • For hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation

Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

If your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector, you can get a cash grant.

  • For businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under, you can get a £10,000 cash grant.
  • For businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, you can get a £25,000 cash grant.
  • Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant once they have received the money from the government. Any questions, contact your local authority accordingly.

Small business grand funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

There isn’t much information on this yet, but according to this page, your local authority will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 if you own a small business that pays little or no business rates after 1 April 2020. Once we know more, we will update this page accordingly.

Support for self-employed individuals

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to COVID-19.

This scheme will allow self-employed individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the three months. This may be extended if needed. This page explains this scheme in detail.

Support for nurseries

Nurseries that pay business rates will be eligible for a business rate holiday, which your local authority will re-issue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. Nurseries that will benefit from the relief are:

  • Occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • Wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • For more information, please see this nursery discount guidance page.

Time to Pay Scheme

If you have unpaid taxes and your business is struggling due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC on 0800 0159 559 to discuss a payment plan. Please note that HMRC will review each case independently. If you are worried about a future payment, please call HMRC nearer the time.

Beware of scams

Amid this uncertainty, fraudsters and scammers are calling (or emailing) people. Pretending to be from HMRC, they promise to help you claim financial help or tax refund if you click on the given link or give information such as your name and bank details. Do not follow their instructions. HRMC has made it clear that you can only make a claim on their website when the process is made available.

Contact us

  • Mark Levy – Partner – – 07831 127356
  • Jeremy Berman – Partner – – 07831 127352
  • Mark West – Insolvency – – 07836 737040
  • Samuel Louis – Audit & Accounts Manager – – 07753 827385
  • Matt Maitland – Accounts and Bookkeeping Manager– – 07714 982988
  • Jan Lockley – Head of Tax – – 07886 395147
  • Parvize Assenjee – Client Manager – – 07947 593803
  • Dipti – Payroll Services –
  • Stephanie – Office Administrator – – 07950 100860

This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Empty supermarket shelves

Business recovery tips for the Coronavirus pandemic

Empty supermarket shelves

With many companies working in lockdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s essential that business owners plan for recovery. We’d like to share a few tips to help your company stay alive and emerge strong.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is natural for company directors and business leaders to be worried about the wellbeing of your staff as well as the health of your business. But amid such uncertainty, company owners and directors must think about the ‘day after tomorrow’. At the moment, no one talks about business recovery because no one is sure if this virus outbreak will last for weeks or months. But if we are to learn from China, we can see that their new cases have significantly declined after 40 days of lockdown. Although China has yet to be totally free from the virus, businesses have started to trade once again and consumers have begun to venture out, albeit maintaining social distancing.

And if we are to look further back at the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, we can see from the data that consumer spending quickly returned to normal for basic items, but demand for clothing actually surged beyond pre-outbreak levels, as reported by Reuters.

As such, it is possible that we can soon say, “it will pass”. In the meantime, let’s take a moment to discuss what you can do to keep your company alive and plan for its recovery.

Short-term measures to stay alive

1. Make use of government assistance

The government has announced a raft of measures that are designed to assist businesses mitigate the pressure of business rates and sick pay. Grants are also being made available to small businesses eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) to help meet ongoing business costs. Take advantage of these where appropriate. Beware though, some of these may cause your business problems later, especially if they come in the form of a loan to be repaid in the short-term.

2. Conserving cash

Company directors know the importance of cash so limit all non-essential spending. Put on hold planned capital expenses and ease off on expenses. Travel and entertainment expenses should be reduced significantly given the current climate. Other expenses like new office equipment and training could be reviewed too.

3. Focus on your core competencies

If your business has embarked on ventures outside of your normal core business, perhaps as part of a business expansion strategy or an attempt to diversify your revenue base, consider holding back on these for the time being to conserve cash and resources. Focus on the heart and strength of your business.

4. A shift in strategy for F&B businesses

Restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars and pubs form an essential part of our communities and foot traffic is their life blood. If you are in the F&B sector, consider how your business can shift strategy and take advantage of the take-away model, using the internet and the delivery companies to fulfil orders when things are tough. Even some pubs have started to move to a home delivery model for both food and drink to help ease the pain.

5. A lesson from the supply chain

We all know that within any supply chain, a problem with one part causes problems for the entire chain, so to avert a longer-term business crisis, it is essential that business owners, clients, suppliers, landlords, and employees all work together and are willing to make sacrifices and help one another. Be prepared to negotiate with your staff, stakeholders, landlords, even clients.

Planning for recovery

Business planning is at the heart of a successful business operation and so is planning for an eventual recovery, although the type of crisis companies face at present is not something they encounter very often.

It is worth noting that unlike the financial crash in 2008, this time almost all industries are severely affected. If you are one of the many affected companies, do not attempt to think that this short-term break means you can afford to ignore your customers. The reason is that your customers now have time on their hand to reevaluate many aspects in life, from how they are taking care of themselves, how they choose to shop, how they will holiday in the future, to name but a few. Once the pandemic is over, you may even see two distinctive trends:

  • A strong spending spree as consumers decide to seize the present moment.
  • A shift in consumer mindset when it comes to personal wellbeing and the environment.

Needless to say, your business must have robust plans to engage your customers during the crisis and meet the demands of post-pandemic consumers.

What will be the new normal?

The business world will likely be a different place after the pandemic. The rush to get out and meet with people after being restricted for weeks may seem certain, but there may be reluctant to do so. So it is likely that people will emerge far more cautious in their behaviour than before. Allow time for your clients and customers to adjust.

When the pressure is relieved and life begins to return to normal, businesses will need to rekindle discussions and agreements. Be prepared to see new deals as well as adjustments to old deals that seemed so certain before the pandemic.

Sound business advice

When your business is making cutbacks during this difficult time, it is tempting to cut back on marketing. This decision is potentially disastrous as your clients (and potential clients) are likely to be considering their options now for when they emerge from this catastrophe. You need to be visible and stay relevant for the clients of tomorrow and your marketing activities will help you achieve that.

In a time of crisis, position your business in a way that your message is about how you can help your clients and your potential clients is loud and clear.

Berley, your trusted business advisers

At Berley, we are small business accountants helping entrepreneurs to thrive across London and we are also business advisers in helping companies through difficult times.

If you are worried about the health of your company during this current Coronavirus pandemic, we can help to:

  • Assess the impact on your business operations
  • Assist you in finding the right assistance
  • Help you recover by putting stringent financial stewardship in place
  • Ultimately, we want to make sure that you have the opportunities to grow again once we all emerge from this crisis

Send us an email at or take a few seconds to fill up our Online Enquiry form. We will be in touch soon.

Husband and wife working together

Can gifting shares to your family members help you save tax?

Husband and wife working together

If you would like to gift shares to your spouse or a family member, have a read of this article first.

As accountants for small businesses in London, we are often asked if it makes sense to gift shares of your company to a spouse or a family member. As there is no legislation in place to address this issue specifically, plus there is a risk that HMRC can (and do) challenge the approach you take, the answer depends on your situations. We would encourage you to seek independent and professional advice before taking any action.

In this article, let us take a look at a common driver behind shares gifting and use examples to help explain the tax implication.

Why do you want to gift shares?

The main reason small business owners want to gift shares to their spouse or a family member is to minimise the overall tax obligation within the family by utilising dividends paid to the spouse or family member. The recipient is usually someone who is in a lower tax bracket and can therefore take advantage of personal allowance and basic rate band.

To kick start the discussion, let’s take a moment to explain what dividends are. Essentially, when a company makes a profit after tax, it retains part of the profits and distributes the rest to its shareholders as dividends. How much each shareholder will get depends on the number of shares held.

If you own 100% of the business and you declare a dividend of £30k, you will get the full £30k because there are no other shareholders.

If you gift 30% of your shares to a spouse and retain 70%, when you declare a dividend of £30k,

  • You receive £21,000 (70% of the £30k)
  • Your spouse receives £9,000 (30% of the £30k)

By receiving a lower dividend, you lower your tax bill accordingly. On the other hand, if your spouse does not have an income, they do not have to pay tax on the £9,000 dividend mentioned in this example because the amount is less than £12,500, the income one is allowed to receive before having to pay income tax, aka personal allowance in tax year 2019/20.

The advantages of dividends

Dividends are well used by small business owners because of their three main benefits:

  • The first £2,000 of dividends are not taxable
  • Unlike salary, dividends are not subject to National Insurance
  • Dividends have a lower tax rate than salaries

For tax year 2019/20, dividend tax rates are:

  • 5% (up to £37,500)
  • 5% (£37,501 - £150,000)
  • 1% (over £150,000)

To help illustrate the relationship between dividends and salaries, and how gifting shares may help one to be more tax-efficient, let us use a few simplified examples below to show you.

Example 1: You get a salary of £60k and no dividend

Assuming you own 100% of the shares of your company. You are also an employee receiving a salary of £60k a year and you do not get any dividend.

  • As your salary is £60k a year, your tax-free allowance is £12,500 (for tax year 2019/20). This means your taxable income is £60,000 - £12,500 = 47,500.
  • Out of £47,500, you will pay 20% tax on the first £37,500 and 40% on £10,000. This means your tax obligation is £11,500.
  • You also have to pay National Insurance (about £5,164).
  • Consequently, your take-home pay is approximately £43,336 a year.

Example 2: You get a salary of £10k and receive a dividend of £50k

Assuming you own 100% of the shares of your company and you are also an employee receiving a salary of £10k a year. To make up your income, you declare a dividend of £50k a year. In this example, you do not pay tax on your salary and you also pay less tax on dividends (because they are taxed at a lower rate than salary). Your take-home pay is approximately £53,923 a year.

By comparing your take-home pay in this example which is £53,923 versus the last example £43,336, you can see that your take-home pay increases by £10,587 a year if you take a low salary and use dividends to make up your income.

Example 3: You get a salary of £10k and receive a dividend of £35k and your spouse receive a dividend of £15k

Assuming you gift 30% of your shares to your spouse and you retain 70%. Your salary is still £10k. At the end of the year, the company declares a dividend of £50k to its shareholders:

  • You receive £35,000 (70% of the £50k dividends)
  • Your spouse receives £15,000 (30% of the £50k dividends)

Because you receive less dividends than in the previous examples, your tax obligation is reduced accordingly. In this case, your take-home pay is about £42,548.

As for your spouse, assuming they don’t earn a salary, the income of £15k from the dividends will see them pay just £37.50 in tax and receive a take-home pay of £14,962.50. This pushes the combined take-home pay of you and your spouse to £57,510.50, significantly more than the take-home pay in the previous two examples.

If you are wondering how the £37.50 tax bill which your spouse will pay is calculated, here are the steps:

  • Your spouse receives a dividend of £15,000 and out of which, the first £2,000 is not taxed, meaning the taxable amount is £13,000.
  • Your spouse has a personal allowance of £12,500, this means effectively, the taxable amount is just £50.
  • Dividend has a lower tax rate and in this case, it is 7.5%, so 7.5% of £50 is £37.50.
  • Your spouse also does not have to pay National Insurance.


The above examples are simplified for discussion only. It must be said that from time to time, the UK government adjusts the amounts of personal allowance and other taxes. How much you will end up paying also depends on your circumstances (like if you have pensions, student loan, so on and so forth).

Dividends enjoy a lower tax rate because they are after tax profits, meaning your company has already paid company tax on the revenues.

Talk to a small business accountant first

Before gifting shares to your spouse or a family member, talk to an independent small business accountant first. The reason is because HMRC does challenge couples who use this approach to lower their tax obligations.

One of the most famous cases was Jones versus Garnett (aka the Arctic Systems case) which happened more than a decade ago. In that particular case, HMRC challenged a couple when the husband allowed his wife to share a percentage of the company’s profit through the use of dividends. When the case reached the House of Lords, it was concluded that the dividends received by the wife fell within the spousal gift exemption. Although HMRC did not win this case, they did win in other similar but not identical cases involving income splitting arrangements between couples.

At Berley, our small business accountants help companies and shareholders to lower their tax bills legitimately. We do not believe in creative accounting that will get you into troubles with HMRC. Our chartered accountants are on hand to discuss your situations and see if the approach of shares gifting to a spouse or a family member is suitable for you. Get in touch with us today by calling 020 7636 9094 today.

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This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.