Accounts - before start-up
Everyone who runs their own business must keep accounts. The best approach is to start from day one. You can keep your own accounts, but if you are not familiar with the relevant regulations, it is better to seek the advice of an accountant.
Do I have to keep accounts?
Under the bookkeeping rules, most businesses are obliged to keep accounts (bookkeeping obligation). In very simple terms, this means that you must document all purchases and sales and enter them in an accounting system. The accounts can then be used as a basis when you submit tax returns and income statements, tax returns for VAT and any other statutory statements.
In addition to keeping accounts under the bookkeeping rules, all private limited companies, for example, are also subject to the annual accounts obligation. In addition to submitting a tax return, they must also submit annual accounts to the Register of Company Accounts.
Who does not need to keep accounts?
You will normally be exempt from the bookkeeping obligation if you run a small sole proprietorship which is not registered for VAT and has a turnover of less than NOK 50,000. However, you must still be able to document all your income and expenses and retain this documentation in an organised manner.
Do I have to have an accountant?
If you have the necessary knowledge, you could consider keeping your accounts yourself if you wish. At least during the start-up phase. In any case, it can be a good idea to get help from someone who knows about accounts in order to set up good routines. The big leap comes when you take on employees. You will then have to pay their salaries and comply with several extra regulations. It is at this point that many people decide to outsource their accounts to an accountant.
Choosing an accounting system
There are many good accounting software programs available on the market. Ask other people what they use and are satisfied with. Check out different suppliers before deciding which one to go for. It is a good idea to choose an accounting system that is compatible with submission via Altinn.
Your own bank account
Do not mix your personal finances with your business finances. Open a separate bank account and use it for your business only.
How should the customer pay?
Different requirements apply concerning documentation depending on whether you make a cash sale or issue an invoice. It is therefore important that you determine what your needs are as soon as possible so that you are ready to issue invoices or receive cash payments when you start trading.
If you make cash sales, you must have a cash register system which fulfils the requirements set out in the bookkeeping rules. As of 1 January 2019, anyone who uses a cash register system must ensure that the system comes with a product declaration A declaration must be provided by the supplier confirming that the cash system meets the requirements of the Cash Register Systems Act and associated regulation. Cash sales are sales where the buyer pays for goods or services on delivery. Cash payments include payments made by cash, credit/cash card and various payment applications (for example Vipps).
The Norwegian Bookkeeping Regulations specifies clear requirements regarding the information that you must include in invoices. Invoices must, among other things, contain an invoice number which is automatically assigned by a program. Alternatively, you must arrange for invoices to be printed by a printing firm. The invoices should contain consecutive invoice numbers in addition to the name, address and organisation number of your business.
Not just an obligation
In addition to the fact that you are obliged to keep accounts, carefully prepared accounts are also the best management tool you have at your disposal. If you have a good overview, you will be able to correct your course at a much earlier stage if necessary.
If you apply for state aid or a loan from your bank, your accounts will be a valuable source of information about your business.
Spend time in the beginning familiarising yourself with the rules that apply to you.
Would you like to know more?
The Tax Administration arrange courses for new business owners. These courses are held across the country and are free of charge.