Contractors cover a huge list of professions from consultants to builders, with all of them offering a unique service to clients. If you have decided to go with the contracting career, then choosing the best and specialist contractor accountant is the second step.
But how do you make sure that the contractor accountant you choose is right for you and can support you in making your business a success?
It’s no secret that there are plenty of contractor accountants in the market, and it’s a very competitive skill, but not all contractor accountants are equal.
So, let’s see how to choose the best contractor accountant?
How does a contractor accountant help you?
Before exploring how to choose a specialist contractor accountant, let’s know how a contractor accountant will help you,
The best contractor accountant will take care of your paperwork for taxation and help you ensure you save more in tax.
More immensely, the best contractor accountants in London walk you through UK’s puzzling rules like IR35, to help you in your business work without worrying about what would happen if HMRC were to investigate you.
There are many core tasks your contractor accountant will do on your behalf. These include:
- Setting up and running your company’s payroll.
- Forming your limited company.
- Registering your company for VAT & filing your VAT returns.
- Help you file your Confirmation Statements.
- Completing the Annual Accounts of your company, and filing them with Companies House and HMRC.
- Dealing with ongoing paperwork related to contracting.
- Providing tax planning advice and retirement planning.
- Filing your personal tax return.
- Providing professional references, for instance, if you want to apply for a mortgage.
Listed tasks above are just an overview; there are also dozens of smaller tasks in which a specialist contractor accountant will guide you.
With that proceeding on let’s move forward to explore how to choose a specialist contractor for you,
1. Are they specialists in the contractor market?
When searching for the best accountant, it can often seem like there are more accountancy firms in the UK than there are contractors!
However, if accountants don’t specialize in the specific contractor market, then you are likely to pay over the odds for a sub-standard service.
A general practice or high street accountant has to deal with many different types of client – spreading their expertise means less experience with personal Limited Companies.
A dedicated contractor accountant will have specialized, in-depth knowledge in dealing with clients like you and will give you the best advice.
2. Are they comfortable with tech?
Your contractor accountant’s job is to make the accounting part of your contracting life as simple as possible, and we can say the same for the technology they can offer you.
Always ask what online accounting system or cloud-based portal they use, and if they can provide you with a demo.
This way you can familiarize yourself with it before deciding if it’s the solution for you.
3. How much do your specialist contractor accountant charge?
This factor varies widely as per your requirements, expect to pay as minimum as £70 a month, or £150 or more a month. It depends on the value addition your accountant brings and how complex your work is.
Make sure you know what level of guidance you want so you can determine which accountant and which package can provide the best value for money.
Also, make sure you ask about hidden charges and don’t be afraid to question the package.
You should also check what’s included in the package. As a minimum, you should expect it to include:
- Preparation and submission of annual accounts
- Preparation and submission of company tax return
- Preparation and submission of personal self-assessment tax return
- Preparation and submission of VAT returns
- Handling of correspondence from HMRC and Companies’ House
- A certain amount of contact hours so you can ask questions and get advice and support with your tax affairs
You definitely should check what’s included in the package, but don’t make it always about price.
More important is that you partner with someone you’re comfortable with, and someone who gives you good advice.
4. They have a reputation you can trust?
Accountants may have a shiny logo, a best website and affiliations with professional bodies, but that doesn’t mean they have a good reputation.
Trustpilot reviews, Google reviews and comparison sites can be a good starting point for checking things out.
That said, it’s not always possible to tell genuine reviews from fake ones. Some reviews may be paid for. And some may be written by people with an axe to grind.
With this in mind, you should take reviews with a pinch of salt.
A better approach is to speak to at least three accountants and ask them to send you proposals.
You can do it yourself or use a specialist service like Experlu, which will provide you with three free and no obligation quotations from accountants.
Speak to fellow contractors or ask in professional groups such as LinkedIn. You are more likely to get an unbiased opinion and trustworthy recommendations.
The factors mentioned above are just a few, you’ll also need to look out the qualifications, professional certifications, professional indemnity they have, and how responsive they are.
In short, hiring a contractor accountant may feel like a huge expense, especially when you’re starting your journey in the contracting world.
But if you choose wisely, then you’ll make the fees back in tax savings and by staying on up to date with the HMRC regulations.
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