If you work for yourself, no-one needs to tell you the value that a good accountant can bring to your business.
So much more than just a simple number-cruncher, a contractor accountant can introduce fresh ideas as well as helping to make sure that your company is performing to its full potential.
If you have never used a contractor accountant before or would simply like a bit more information about what services can be typically provided, here’s a brief overview.
If you run your own business, you will inevitably have a rough idea of how things are going without know the exact figures. However, there can be times when being able to calculate the most up to the minute information would be very useful, for example if you want to draw some money out.
If you complete your own accounts, keeping everything updated will inevitably be a longwinded and rather manual affair, even with the help of a few spreadsheets here and there. For this reason, the chances that you will keep your figures updated every day are very slim.
Contrast this to the service provided by a contractor accountant. The vast majority of firms now use technology to its fullest in order to allow their customers to access the most up to date information with simply a click of a button. And with electronic portals, the transfer of key facts and figures is much swifter and can even avoid visits to the office.
If you are relatively inexperienced in working for yourself or perhaps your company is only small, there is a good chance that you will automatically assume that being a sole trader is your only option.
However, you don’t need to have a massive turnover or have been trading for years in order to establish yourself as a limited company. And in many ways a limited company may prove to be more beneficial as they offer a greater degree of protection to your personal assets for example.
Talking through your business with your accountant will provide you with the opportunity to get some expert advice on the set-up, including whether you could be more tax-efficient if you structured your company in a different way.
But whilst you can expect your accountant to proactively offer advice on any glaring holes they can see in your business plan, you might not expect them to take quite such a close interest in your personal arrangements.
However, using an accountant means that you can get advice about your entire financial set-up, including pension arrangements, a very important factor which can become more problematic when you switch to being self-employed.
Tax and legal services
These types of responsibilities are what you would expect from any good accountant; a means of checking you are paying the right amount of tax and that you do not have to shell out more than you should.
Factors such as capital gains tax, corporation tax and VAT all need to be considered but your accountant could maintain, complete and submit all necessary paperwork on your behalf. If paperwork isn’t your favourite thing, enabling an accountant to act on your behalf might be one of the best things you could do.
Rather than continue to wade through the reams of forms and figures, the time you save on admin could easily be put to better use elsewhere.
Advice and legal help
Many accountancy firms provide a lot of information and guides on their websites, available at no cost, to help customers with any more generic questions that arise.
However, they will also make continuous assessments about your individual set-up to ascertain if you are at risk of breaching any regulations. Once such example is the legislation known as IR35. HMRC use this to increase the tax payable on any individual who they suspect are not fully embracing the spirit of being self-employed. This is a very complex set of rules which has caught many contractors unaware but your accountant will be able to help ensure you have the documentation in place to show that it shouldn’t apply.
Insurance is another crucial element when you have your own company and there are various types of business insurance that you might want to consider. Your accountant will be able to discuss each type of cover and advise whether it is a necessary expense which you should fork out for to provide your business with the protection it need.
A contractor accountant has a lot of expertise at their fingertips and this level of information being brought into the business could make a dramatic impact. And of course, there’s always the added benefit of being able to rely on some-one else to help with the administration!
If you are concerned about the cost of this type of service, you will be delighted to discover that it is possible to have access to all of the above facilities and more for a fixed monthly tariff. This allows you the control over your finances without missing out on any useful expertise – the perfect balance!
Written by Alan who suggests employing a specialise Contractor Account such as Brookson’s – Accountants in Warrington.
Image credits: @Doug88888 and CSEEMAN
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