If you’re considering making the move from permanent employment to contracting, you’ll need to find someone who you can trust with your tax matters. A good accountant will make sure your business saves on tax, stays compliant with evolving legislation and keeps up-to-date with the latest trends. Here are five quality traits to look for when choosing an accountant.
This goes without saying. Make sure your accountant has a good reputation and a strong work ethic. If your accountant suggests doing anything even vaguely illegal to help cut your tax bill, cut ties immediately. An accountant with integrity will ensure the confidentiality of your financial matters – and your business as a whole.
A good accountant is structured, disciplined and organised, with excellent time-management skills. If your accountant’s office looks like a hurricane went through it, or he/she has a habit of missing meetings or not replying to emails, how can you be sure your tax matters aren’t in a shambles?
As a contractor, your goal should be to earn as much take-home pay as possible. Although each individual circumstance is different, most contractors opt to pay themselves a basic salary and take the rest of their business profits as dividends in the form of shareholder income. Make sure you find an accountant who specialises in contractor accounting, understands the ins and outs of running a business from a contractor’s perspective, and gives you guidance that goes beyond general accounting matters.
Make sure your accountant is truly passionate about what they do. A good accountant will thrive on finding solutions to complicated challenges and will make sure they stay up-to-date with any changes in the industry, especially those that involve the integration of technology with traditional face-to-face services. Find an accountant who actively keeps up with the latest trends and is genuinely enthused about their job.
Your accountant should always keep you abreast of any key announcements, changes in legislation and upcoming deadlines that could affect your business. For example, the paper filing deadline of 31 October 2014 may be long gone, but a good accountant will point out that you still have until 31 January 2015 to file your Self Assessment return online. By doing so, you’ll avoid HMRC’s immediate £100 penalty and any further fines down the road. It’s information like this that will save your business valuable money and keep you ahead of the curve.