I just spotted this tweet advertising UK limited company accounts and corporation tax preparation done in one hour, for just £25:
The link is to peopleperhour an online service which links providers of services with customers looking to work on fixed price projects.
Clearly this would be an amazing offer and, just like most things that seem too good to be true, it turns out that it's not what it seems.
Laura from Simple Accounting (NW) Ltd was kind enough to clarify for me that the offer really means that the work will be done at a rate of £25 per hour, and that she normally tells clients to budget for 8 hours. (It seems that the peopleperhour website automatically posts a tweet and an "hourlie" in a format that is beyond Laura's control).
The fixed price for the company accounts and tax compliance work is therefore normally £300, assuming the 8 hour turnaround. This is still amazing value for money. Laura confirmed that she may quote more than the headline £300 for bigger businesses and where, for instance, there is a lot of bank reconciliation work to be done.
In my experience, accounting records need to be in pretty reasonable shape to get a set of company accounts knocked together within a day. Although, if they are computerised records that is (usually) a big time saver. Once the accounts are done, the tax work doesn't take much time as most small businesses actually have pretty straightforward tax affairs.
Cost-conscious small business owners are likely to be attracted to a £300 fixed-fee service, since they perceive no value in routine year end accounts work. Accountants who think I am mad when I suggest that that price competition is inexorably moving the market towards free compliance work might be alarmed at Laura's daring pricing strategy.