Most accountants are also successful business owners, and can offer much more than just accounts and tax services. They should be your on-call business partner, a sounding board for ideas, helping you run your business smoothly and suggesting ways to earn and keep more income. They also have a wide network of business connections and can usually always find a specialist if needed.
But how do you know you’re getting good clear advice from your accountant? What should you be asking your accountant? Firstly, why use an accountant at all?
Any individual or business that needs to file a tax return with HMRC should use a qualified accountant. Not only do they take away the hassle of preparing accounts and tax returns allowing you to concentrate on your own businesses, but they should also ensure that you and your business are paying the least amount of tax legally due.
A good qualified accountant should be able to explain everything to you without using jargon, ensuring you understand everything you need to know about your accounts and your tax liabilities. They should also take a genuine interest in your businesses and strive to help you achieve your goals. Therefore, taking calls and meeting with you at any time to discuss and learn more about your business should all be part of the service.
Here are some questions you should ask a qualified accountant to check you are getting good advice:
- Do I have the right business structure?
Running a business through a limited company has many benefits such as protecting yourself from personal liability, and potentially being able to pay yourself the profits at a lower tax rate than a salary or drawings. However, with the additional costs involved, small businesses may be better off as a partnership or sole trader.
- How should I be registered for VAT, if at all?
There are various VAT schemes available to help small businesses keep more of their earnings, or help with their cash flow. For example the VAT flat rate scheme can save some businesses thousands of pounds a year, and the VAT cash accounting scheme delays paying over the VAT on unpaid sales invoices. The smallest businesses don’t even have to be registered for VAT but it may benefit them in certain circumstances.
- Are there any other schemes that could save me tax?
Other tax saving schemes include: the Enterprise Investment Scheme, offering income tax and capital gains tax relief for new business investment; A national insurance holiday for certain new employers; and companies involved in research and development can obtain additional tax relief or a tax credit by claiming R&D relief.
- How can I improve my bookkeeping & accounting systems?
Having a timely and accurate record of your finances is vital to monitoring how well the business is doing, how much cash is available, and for planning ahead. Your accountant should be able to provide various options and advice on keeping or improving good accounting records, such as recommending easy-to-use online accounts software.
- What future changes do I need to be aware of?
Your accountant should be keeping you up to date with upcoming changes in tax law and other regulations that affect your accounts and tax liabilities.
For any questions or advice you are seeking regarding your business, contact one of our experts.