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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Examining Accounts: Computer Generated Records: Hardware

The type of hardware used with the accounts packages may affect the number and type of people who have access to the records and the extent of that access. Although modern systems tend to be more standardised and access is generally less restricted it may still be useful to consider some or all of the following.

  • Exactly what equipment (hardware) is there?
  • Where is the equipment kept?
  • Is it stand-alone or part of a network?
  • Is any part of that network outside of the business premises or even overseas?
  • Who operates it?
  • Is it used for anything other than accounts work? If so what?
  • What experience does the operator have of this or other systems?
  • Where does the trader get expert assistance from?

This list is not prescriptive and you should consult the local Data Handling Specialist for assistance.

Bookkeeping and accountancy software used to process tax returns can be found on a number of different hardware configurations, for example:

Mainframe - a large computer system which requires special conditions to house it and its support staff. They are generally owned by very large companies and run specially designed accounting software. In large retail companies they are also used to tie up stock control and sales through an EPOS (electronic point of sale) system.

  • PCs - a modern PC (including laptops) has enough capacity to deal with the accounts of a reasonably large business with considerable turnover. Much of the software is commercially produced and bought with a small amount of instruction.
  • Others, such as tablets and smart phones that can run accounting software.

In addition to these systems, you will also need to consider if the business uses any computerised tills or other similar computer hardware.