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How to enter your opening balances

This article explains how to enter your opening balances as part of FreeAgent's account setup process.

If your business is a limited company and you’ve been trading for a while, you'll have some opening balances to enter when you first begin using FreeAgent. These are your figures as they stood as at your FreeAgent start date. FreeAgent needs to include this brought-forward information in your accounting reports.

As brought-forward balances don’t impact the tax return for the current year of a sole trader, partnership or LLP, a full set of opening balances may not be required.

We recommend you enter the opening balances before you file your first VAT return, because once that VAT return is filed, you won’t be able to edit entries to VAT reclaimed (818) or VAT Charged (819).

Your opening balances might include:

  • money your customers owed you (your accountant might call this ‘trade debtors’)
  • money you owed to your suppliers (your accountant might call this ‘trade creditors’)
  • the balance(s) on your bank account(s)
  • money you owed to HMRC for PAYE and NIC, or VAT

Where to find your opening balances

Your accountant should be able to supply you with a trial balance (a list of all the balances in your accounts) as at your FreeAgent start date.

If you’re starting to use FreeAgent at the beginning of a new financial year, you only need to put in balances for your balance sheet accounts, such as money owed to you by your customers.

If you’re starting to use FreeAgent mid-way through your financial year, you may also have entries for the year to date for your profit and loss accounts, such as income the business has earned since the beginning of this financial year.

Your accountant will be able to advise which entries you need to record in FreeAgent. Unfortunately the FreeAgent support team can’t help you with this, as we’re not authorised by HMRC to provide accounting advice. 

You’ll find a full list of the categories available in your FreeAgent account by navigating to ‘Accounting’ at the top of your screen, then selecting Reports from the drop-down menu and choosing ‘Trial Balance’ from the ‘Detailed’ section. You’ll find ‘Chart of Accounts’ available to download as a CSV file from the ‘Export Report’ drop-down menu at the top-right of the screen.

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How to enter your opening balances

VAT opening balances

The balances you enter will depend on a few scenarios,  like whether the first VAT quarter in FreeAgent is a new one or mid-quarter, and whether or not you’re on the Flat Rate Scheme. 

Bank account balances

Enter your bank account balances by navigating to Banking, selecting the relevant bank account’s name under the graph, and then selecting ‘Edit Details’. Enter the balance as at your FreeAgent start date. Enter a minus sign if the balance is money you owed to the bank, such as an overdraft or loan.

You may have entered the opening bank balance when you set up your account but we recommend that you check that the figure looks right at this point.

Bank account for a loan

Add a new bank account in FreeAgent to deal with a loan, then enter the outstanding balance as it stood at your FreeAgent start date, including a minus sign at the start of the figure.  FreeAgent will add this as a credit figure in your opening balances.

Stock balances

If you had items in stock as at your FreeAgent start date, create new stock items and enter the opening quantity and value of those items.

Opening share capital

If your business is a limited company, you should enter the opening share capital for each shareholder as a credit to code 901.

Opening profit or loss reserves

Any reserves of retained profits your business has built up over the years need to go in as a credit to account 968. If the business is carrying a reserve of losses in its accounts as at its FreeAgent start date, that would be a debit entry to account 968.

Other opening balances

You’ll need to record the rest of your opening balances as a set of journal entries.

From the 'Journal Entries' screen, choose 'Opening Balances'.

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You’ll see that there is already a set of opening balance journals created. To add more opening balances to this, select ‘Edit Opening Balances’.

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You can then enter the rest of your opening balances here.

Editing your opening balances

You can easily edit your opening balances.

To edit your opening balances, navigate to Accounting > Journal Entries, choose Opening Balances and select ‘Edit Opening Balances’.

Make any changes you need to, then save them. Remember that the journal entries must balance in order to allow you to save them.

If you would like to edit the bank balance, navigate to 'Banking' at the top of the screen and select 'Bank Accounts' from the drop-down menu. Select the relevant bank account and then choose 'Edit Details'.

If you need to edit stock balances, select your company name at the top-right of the screen and choose 'Settings' from the drop-down menu. Select 'Price List & Stock' from the Settings area and then choose 'Stock'. You can also edit stock balances on the 'Journal Entries' screen. 

When you’ve filed a VAT return to HMRC through FreeAgent, you won't be able to edit the opening balance for VAT reclaimed (818) or VAT Charged (819), corrections for these need to be made in the next open VAT period.

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