[Debian-uk] open-source accounting in the UK?

Daniel Pocock daniel at pocock.com.au
Fri Oct 4 21:49:19 BST 2013

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On 04/10/13 11:38, Philip Hands wrote:
> Hi Daniel,
> Daniel Pocock <daniel at pocock.com.au> writes:
>> Hi,
>> I'm just wondering if anybody else is using any of the open
>> source accounting solutions (e.g. PostBooks, GnuCash) in the UK
>> and in particular, for preparing UK VAT reports?
>> Also, has anybody had any positive (or negative?) experiences
>> with accountants/book-keepers who have worked with data managed
>> in one of these open-source solutions, e.g. when you give them
>> access to the system for end-of-year accounts/tax return
>> completion?
> I use ledger-cli (and more recently hledger on the same data).  I
> just spent the afternoon with my accountant, and now we seem to be
> on the same page as far as what I'm doing with ledger --- it's
> hardly a system that a normal person might like though.

One of my aims with Postbooks is that somebody else can do some of the
routine tasks

> Before that I tried OpenERP and then Tryton -- I probably would
> have stuck with Tryton if my experience with OpenERP's worthless UK
> chart of accounts, combined with my somewhat hazy understanding of
> what should have been going on, hadn't put me off the whole idea.
> I'd imagine that the chart of accounts has been fixed or at least
> deleted (well, they closed the bug report about 18 months after I
> reported it without comment, so I guess they did something about it
> -- right? ;-) ).

The problem is much the same for all of these systems - the
conventions are slightly different in each country and they basically
need to create a different starter database for each country.  For
people maintaining free software that is just a chore.

PostBooks comes with a GUI tool called "csvimp" that assists with bulk
importing things like a chart of accounts from a CSV file.  It works
well for consultants who want to rapidly create databases for each of
their clients but may require a bit of learning for a first time user.

> I first started looking for a replacement accounting system when
> Labour helpfully twiddled with the VAT rate, which my cobbled
> together mess of perl and postgres wasn't quite ready for -- I
> thought that was a good time to find something better -- I would
> have been _much_ better off adding the very few tweaks required to
> vary the vat rate on my old system :-/

When they gave us a 10% GST in Australia, there was a lot of
suspicion. People believed it would eventually be cranked up to 20%
like European countries, many people insisted on having software that
would cope with the change.

That is one problem that PostBooks handles extremely well though, they
did a generalization of their tax framework to cope with just about

but you still have to manually put in the rates, regions, etc

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