Anne, The Tax Lady, talks about working from home and supporting businesses with tax advice

1. Tell us a bit about you,e.g. are you native to Dunoon or have you moved here from elsewhere?

I’m a Clydesider, born and bred, and spent much of my early life on Arran and later near Hamilton in Lanarkshire. After 3 years at Glasgow university, I married an Englishman and spent 40 years in Southampton working first for the Inland Revenue, and then for several large accountancy firms, specialising in tax residence. When I wanted to come home to Scotland, my sister suggested Dunoon, because she used to live in Ardentinny. It’s also very good for transport links as I travel to Greenock, Southampton, Aberdeen, Leith and Bristol on business at times.

2. What sparked your business idea?

I started out on my own in Southampton’s Ocean Village Marina in 1997 and built up a varied clientele from scratch, mostly seafarers- merchant seamen, workers aboard cruise liners and oilfield supply ships and yachtsmen. When I had to quit my office (the building was knocked down to build flats!) I moved the business home and went completely digital. This made it easy to transfer the whole business to Dunoon, as it really doesn’t matter where in the world my clients are.

3. What was the best piece of business advice you have been given and who gave it to you?

I read it in a book of quotes, while looking for something else-

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value." -- Albert Einstein

It works for women too ☺

4. What challenges have you faced to make use of online resources or promote your business digitally?

I was always an early adopter of technology and embraced the digital age since acquiring my first computer in 1981- a Dragon32! It’s got easier with the advent of high speed broadband and improvements in scanner technology. The biggest problem I have found has been with banks and solicitors, many of whom even now expect to deal in signed pieces of paper and obsolete forms. Scammers are also becoming a nuisance recently.

5. What is unique or interesting about running a business here in Dunoon?

Porpoises playing alongside the ferry when I returned from a particularly long day across the water!
 Nipping out of the office to watch the sheep-dog trials up the road.

6. Tell us the one thing about your business that you are most proud of.

That every 31st January, I manage to get all the tax returns in on time- even when the information arrives on January 30th!

7. What changes do you think could help sustain and develop Dunoon as a place to do business?

Better mobile phone coverage. I have to go outside to make a call when I am at home. And it would be great if there was somewhere to get a cup coffee and a bite to eat after 4pm, when most tearooms seem to close. It would be even better if there was wifi available in them all. Thumbs up to Benmore Gardens Café for supplying both those things- at least in the summer.

8. What support do you think is missing for small businesses in the Dunoon Area?

A Chamber of Commerce or similar organisation.

9. What are your key business goals over the next 12 months?

Firstly, to keep going in the wake of coronavirus! Because of the nature of my business I’m relatively unaffected so far, but this is just deferred to next year, if many of my clients can’t work this summer.

In the longer term, it would be nice to maybe employ someone to help in the office.

I would also like to teach classes for those apprehensive about using digital technology, as it’s the future of both business and communications, and no-one should be left behind. At the moment, ‘making tax digital’ only applies if your profits are over the VAT threshold, but it’s inevitable that it will be extended down to all of us in time.

10. Promote your business. Tell people why we should come to you?

I have 36 years experience of helping people through the complexities of the UK tax system and I try to explain it in a straightforward fashion. I don’t charge by the hour, like some city firms. What you’re quoted is what you’ll pay, and no job is too small. I’m just as happy to advise one person micro-businesses as millionaires. I don’t, however, deal with Limited Companies; I prefer to specialise in personal tax.

Contact Anne MacDonald Coleman the Tax lady:


Phone:(023) 8048 0085