8 – Accountants (England and Wales)

Last Updated on 6 April 2021

Accountants are not there to take financial responsibility away from you!
You are legally responsible for your own tax even if someone else files your returns.

Support bodies vary around the UK. We have a slightly different version of this help sheet for people living in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

An accountant’s main role is to help you pay the lowest amount of tax, and get your tax return in on time. If you are working through your own limited company they can also help you set up, and do annual company paperwork, payroll, etc..

Why do you need one?

  • Because you’re not an accountant
  • They can do some of the form filling
  • They can advise on allowable business expenses
  • They should remind you when things are due (agree this up front)
  • To keep track of changes in legal requirements, rates and regulations
  • They have a special hotline to HMRC advisors. You don’t.
  • Find new ways to save money

How to find one?

  • Ask around – personal recommendations from friends in the same business, or other local business contacts
  • Make sure they belong to one of the professional bodies
  • Ask them if you can speak to other clients (as a reference)

What to discuss?

  • How much will you do yourself? You can cut costs if you’re organised.
  • What’s the easiest way for you to keep records and pass them on?
  • How are they planning for Making Tax Digital? Which software do they recommend? How much will this cost you?
  • Who will actually do your accounts? The office junior?
  • When will you be charged and for what?
  • How often will you meet (if at all)?
  • If you’re VAT registered will the accountant do VAT returns too? You might feel you can do this yourself, especially as the new accountancy software may have it built in.

Remember, your accountant will know all about your financial arrangements. He or she needs to be someone you trust and get on with.

You might prefer to use the services of a book-keeper to keep track of income and expenditure, especially if your business regularly has a lot of invoices or receipts.

But book-keeping is something you can easily do yourself if you have simple business affairs.

Find out more:
www.mybusiness.co.uk – general business advice site
www.businesswales.gov.wales – click on ‘Finance’ – specifically for Wales

Institute of Chartered Accountants, England and Wales
Qualification: FCA, ACA

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Qualification: FCCA, ACCA

Posted on 23 January 2020