Guidelines to tax returns: If you’ve had the new self-assessment tax returns from the Inland Revenue and are still completely baffled by them, one of the many pieces of helpful literature comes from The Institute of Chartered Accountants. A leaflet entitled Self Assessment and your Business has been published by the institute and deals with “ten of the most important questions which businesses should be asking with regard to self-assessment”. The leaflet is free and is available from the institute on 0171-920 8633. The new self-assessment system started last month, and for more in-depth information see Design Week 19 January.

The institute has also published a research report charting why owner-managed businesses fail from the point of view of accountants and bankers. Called The failure of Owner-Managed Businesses: The diagnosis of accountants and bankers, the report is available from the institute on the number above.

Legal tips for Net transactions: The Internet is increasingly being used for business transactions, obtaining information and providing information – no surprise there. But according to London law firm DJ Freeman, few users are aware of the variety of contractual relationships which affect development, access and use. The firm has produced guidance notes addressing home page development, service providers, customer contracts, content providers and electronic trading. The notes highlight the need for appropriate contractual arrangements in order to comply with the law and protect the interests of all parties concerned. Free copies of the booklet are available from the firm on 0171-556 4166.

ASA reviews British Standards Institute: The Advertising Standards Authority is looking into the British Standards Institute after complaints concerning the institute’s advertising campaign for ISO 9000 quality standard. The standard, formerly known by the cumbrous name of BS 5750, was devised to set up systems of best practice within companies. But complaints received by the ASA cite BSI for making alleged false claims of effectiveness, productivity and profit. After a period when the standard seemed to have dropped from sight, it is once again the subject of contention. Watch this space for details of the ASA’s intervention, which could reveal more than criticism of the advertising campaign.

Homeworkers on the increase: As many as two in five small businesses work from home today, compared with one in three less than two years ago, according to research from Barclays Bank. This trend looks set to increase as information technology becomes more accessible and affordable, predicts the bank. But people considering working from home should beware the pitfalls – it’s not suitable for many businesses. Areas to consider include looking into tax implications, changes in insurance policies and legal aspects like leases, deeds, charges, covenants and by-laws. Possible planning permission and security must also be considered.

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