Standard Name Format - Definition document

Standard Name Format (SNF) is a method of transmitting data from accounts packages to self assessment tax packages.

Key features:

Tax packages using Standard Name Format:

Absolute Topup
BTC Software - SA Solution
Drummohr Technology - Tax Assistant
Legatio - FastTax
Forbes/Absolute - ProTax
Objective Tax
PTP - TaxReturn
QMS - SA2000
Taxcalc (except Lite)

Accounting packages using Standard Name Format:

VT Software

(Please note there is no connection between VT Software Limited and VizTopia Software Limited)

If you are a software developer and you implement an SNF import or export facility, please send an email to VT Software so that your name can be added to the above lists.

Standard Name Format (SNF) is a method and data format for the export of accounts data from accounts packages to self assessment tax software packages. It is easy for software developers to implement and simple for the user. It uses standard names instead of tax return box numbers to identify amounts, and so should not need to be altered from year to year if the box numbers on the tax return change.

SNF was devised by VT Software after consultation with tax software vendors. VT Software undertakes to supply details of SNF free of charge to anyone who makes a request, and it is hoped that SNF will be adopted as a universal standard by both tax software vendors and accounts package vendors.

SNF supports the transfer of data via the clipboard or a text file. Most tax packages only support the clipboard method, as this is the easiest to use.

SNF applies to unincorporated businesses only. Unlike the personal tax return, the CTSA tax return does not contain a pre-formatted profit and loss account and balance sheet.

No changes were made to SNF after it was introduced in 1998 until 2007/8. In that year the format of the self employment return changed, but not the equivalent section in the partnership return. To accommodate the change, one new standard name was created and some names no longer apply to both the self employment return and the partnership return. Full details are contained in the list of names at the bottom of this page. Also in that year, the group of standard names entitled Adjustments and capital allowances were removed from the standard.

See snf before 2007_8.htm for details of SNF before the above changes.

Overview of usage
The user chooses a command in his accounts package such as Export via Clipboard (Standard Name Format). He then switches to his tax software package, selects the appropriate client, tax year and trade and chooses a command such as Import via Clipboard (Standard Name Format).

If data is exchanged via a text file and not the clipboard, the user also has to enter a file name in each case.

Data format
Data is copied to the clipboard or saved in a text file in the same format. The format consists of a line for each tax return box. The lines are separated by carriage return and linefeed characters. Each line consists of the standard name for the tax return box, a tab character and the amount in the box. The amount should not contain any thousands separators such as commas. The sign convention for the amount should be the same as that used on the tax return. The standard name is followed by the word Disallowable to identify disallowable expenditure. For example:

Sales 10000
CostOfSales 6000
EmployeeCosts 1500
EmployeeCostsDisallowable 250

The items can appear in any order. Lines for zero amounts must be included. The names are not case sensitive. The names never include spaces.

The extension .snf should be used for text files. The default folder/directory should be c:\snfdata.

Data groups
The accounting package may transmit one or more of the following groups of data:

The tax package should only reset an item to zero if a zero line is included in the data transmitted. The user may have chosen to enter a group of data such as disallowable expenses directly into the tax package, and he will not want this data to be reset.

Identification lines (clipboard or text file)
The clipboard or text file should also include the following identification lines:


These are intended to identify the data to the tax software package, and not to set boxes in the tax return. AccountsPackageName should always be the very first line on the clipboard or in the text file. PeriodEnding should be a date in the format dd mmmm yyyy. The tax software package may choose to use this data to prompt the user before importing the data. An example of these lines is as follows:

AccountsPackageName ABC Accounts Package
BusinessName A Sole Trader
PeriodEnding 31 March 2002

List of standard names

Standard Name Description on self-employment return Description on partnership return
Sales Your turnover Sales
CostOfSales Cost of goods bought for re-sale or goods used Cost of sales
SubcontractorCosts Construction industry - payments to subcontractors Construction industry subcontractor costs
OtherDirectCosts [No longer included on self-employment tax return. If code used in error, tax packages should include under the standard name CostOfSales] Other direct costs
OtherIncome Any other business income Other income/profits
EmployeeCosts Wages, salaries and staff costs Employee costs
PremisesCosts Rent, rates, power and insurance costs Premises costs
Repairs Repairs and renewals of property and equipment Repairs
GeneralAdmin Telephone, fax, stationery and other office costs General administrative expenses
MotorExpenses [No longer included on self-employment tax return. If code used in error, tax packages should include under the standard name Travel] Motor expenses
Travel Car, van and travel expenses Travel and subsistence
Advertising Advertising and business entertaining costs Advertising, promotion and entertainment
LegalAndProfessional Accountancy, legal and other professional costs Legal and professional costs
BadDebts Irrecoverable debts written off Bad debts
Interest Interest on bank and other loans Interest and alternative finance payments
OtherFinanceCharges Bank, credit card and other financial charges Other finance charges
Depreciation Depreciation and loss/(profit) on sale of assets Depreciation and loss/(profit) on sale
OtherExpenses Other business expenses Other expenses including partnership charges
Plant Equipment, machinery and vehicles Plant, machinery and motor vehicles
OtherFixedAssets Other fixed assets Other fixed assets (premises, goodwill investments etc)
Stock Stock and work in progress Stock and work in progress
Debtors Trade debtors Debtors/prepayments/other current assets
Bank Bank/building society balances Bank/building society balances
Cash Cash in hand Cash in hand
OtherCurrentAssets Other current assets and prepayments [New item on self-employment tax return only. If code used in error for a partnership, tax packages should include under the standard name Debtors]
TradeCreditors Trade creditors Trade creditors/accruals
Loans Loans and overdrawn bank account balances Loans and overdrawn bank accounts
OtherLiabilities Other liabilities and accruals Other liabilities
BalanceAtStart Balance at start of period Balance at start of period
NetProfit Net profit or loss Net profit
CapitalIntroduced Capital introduced Capital introduced
Drawings Drawings Drawings


Sample data

Sample data in SNF format (self-employment)

Sample data in SNF format (partnership)


Further information or comments

For further information or to make comments, please contact:

Philip Hodgson
VT Software Limited