How you record income - whether using the cash or accruals basis - can have implications on your tax liability for a given year, so it's important to understand what these are and why.

Cash Basis

What is the Cash basis?

On the cash basis, you count your income and expenses as they are paid (rather than as they are invoiced).

Why would this be useful to me?

Firstly, it's simpler than the accruals basis. You don't have to worry about recording timing difference between sending or receiving invoices - you just track what money you receive, and what money you spend, as you spend it. 

Also if you have money owed to you at the end of the tax year for services or products you've already delivered, then on the cash basis you won't owe tax on that income until you actually receive the payment. This means you delay paying tax on that income until the following tax year, improving your cash flow.

Accruals Basis

What is the Accrual basis?

On the accruals basis, you count your income and expenses as they are invoiced (rather than as they are paid). Or more accurately, as the benefits are received or delivered.

Why would this be useful to me?

Depending on when you've recorded this as income, there's a chance that this affects your tax calculation for a given tax year.

For example, if you invoice a client just before the end of the tax year on, say, March 15th 2019 with 30 day terms for payment, you'll expect to be paid on April 14th 2019, which falls into the following tax year. For most sole traders, the default HMRC 2018/19 tax year runs until April 5th 2019.

Using the accruals basis to calculate your tax means you'll be recording this as income for the 2018/19 tax year.

However, using the cash basis, the tax liability on this income would be delayed until the following tax year.

Coconut uses the Cash Basis

We're able to use data from your current account to give you an accurate reflection of your tax liability for an inbound payment considered as income.

This applies to sole traders and limited companies, as follows:

Sole Trader

Limited Company

Day to day bookkeeping




Up to £1.35m turnover

Tax return



Company accounts



Company tax return



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