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Top 5 tips to help you choose the best contractor accountant

Last updated on Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Written by Alex Cadman

If you have decided that trading through your own limited company is the most beneficial option for you, you now have the task to go about finding and choosing a contractor accountant.

Choosing the best contractor accountant for you is essential as they can help you maximise your take home pay by minimising your tax burden, all while staying compliant with HM Revenue & Customs’ legislation.

Here are five top tips to help you choose the best contractor accountant for you:

1. Look for a specialist

Unlike high-street accountants and many accounting software packages, accountancy firms that specialise in the contracting and freelancing industry better understand the tax rules for self-employed professionals. This means that a specialist contractor accountant has the knowledge to help you minimise your tax burden through strategic tax planning, which will, in turn, help you increase your take home pay.

A specialist contractor accountant can also evaluate your unique needs and circumstances to help you determine the best way to pay yourself, whether that means contracting as a sole trader, working through an umbrella company or being the Director of your own limited company.

2. Gain a general understanding of the technology they use

Any contractor accountant worth their salt embraces technology to help streamline the accounting process. When looking for an accountant, check if they have a mobile-responsive client portal that allows you to access and view your finances in real-time.

Additionally, these days you shouldn’t have to be downloading Excel spreadsheet templates from your accountant to be recording your expenses – this ideally would be available through your client portal directly. Your accountant should be using technology that makes any administration you must do as quick, easy and hassle-free as possible.

3. Find out the level of support they offer

Will the contractor accountant give you one dedicated contact or a team of individuals to assist you? This is a key question to ask when doing research. On the one hand, a dedicated contact can be beneficial in that they will know your situation very well. However, what happens when this one person is on holiday or is busy helping another client? This is where having a team on hand to answer your queries can be more beneficial – they will still get to know you and are always available to help you even when one person is otherwise occupied.

It is also important to look for ‘unlimited support’ and ‘unlimited tax advice’ when researching accountants. One of the main jobs of a contractor accountant is to help minimise your tax burden, so you shouldn’t have to pay extra if you want advice and support regarding your finances.

4. Find out what other ‘value-added’ services they offer

Does the accountant offer free setup, free limited company incorporation and help setting up your business bank account? These are added-value services that not every contractor accountant offer. A good contractor accountant likely includes the above as part and parcel of their service, however, other accountants may charge a one-off fee of over £100 just to get you set up with their service.

5. Look closely at the services you are getting for the fee

The price of the accounting service you choose is important, but not as much as the value and level of service you are getting for it. Fees for a contractor accounting service can range from between £70 to over £250 per month. You may discover that the lower range priced firms are more software-based, meaning you might have to complete your own bookkeeping or invoicing. For many, the right service is a fully comprehensive package. If that is the case for you, then look for a service which doesn’t charge extra for services like tax planning advice.

It’s worth investing in the right contractor accountant for you, as even higher accountancy fees tend to pay for themselves through the tax savings you experience. This is especially true if the firm you choose is well-established, compliant and a specialist in contracting.

Overall, the most important thing is that you are comfortable and confident with your accountant and that you have an open line of communication. As such, don’t overly base your decision on price where your business and finances are concerned.

These tips are just some of the key pieces of information you should seek when researching a contractor accountant. It shouldn’t be a decision taken lightly and you should do your due diligence to make sure you get the best value and service for your requirements

For more information on contractor accounting services, or call us to speak to our consultants, who can discuss your accounting options and help you decide on the best service for you.

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