12 ways to spot a good contractor accountant

7th April, 2016
12 ways to spot a good contractor accountant

Every contractor struggling with their limited company accounts needs a good accountant – and not just a good accountant, but a good contractor accountant who understands you and your business. But what makes a good contractor accountant?

Here’s our guide:

They specialise in contractors

It may seem obvious, but an accountant who deals with contractors regularly will understand what you do. They’ll be able to spot opportunities for things like expenses, or IR35 issues, which high street accountants may miss.
Everything you need is part of their monthly fee

Although having a pick-and-mix approach can be attractive, an all-inclusive service can add up to more than the sum of its parts. You’ll want your accountant to deal with Companies House, run payroll including PAYE and complete your limited company accounts – the issues mesh together. Your personal tax return can’t be a company expense but some contractor accountants will include this.

They will incorporate your limited company

This is not simply a matter of contacting Companies House. You may need to register as an employer, or for VAT, and set up a payroll system. Is this extra or included?

Bookkeeping is made easy

Some contractor accountants will help with bookkeeping as part of the service – others will either charge or expect you to keep track of the information yourself. In either case, the amount of work you need to do often depends on how well the contractor accountant is set up to deal with bookkeeping, such as making it available through online technology.

They use technology in a way you’re comfortable with

Some accountants will do everything online – you can review your accounts at any time of day and they will be up to date. Others will stick to an Excel spreadsheet, or use a specific proprietary software package. It’s important that you don’t feel bamboozled by technology or frustrated by the lack of control.

Other contractors recommend them

Anyone who is good at what they do finds it easy to get new work and contractor accountants are no exception. Word-of-mouth recommendations are often a great indicator of how good an accountant is – and all the accountants working ContractingWISE have dozens of satisfied clients.

You have a dedicated account manager

Having a single point of contact is much easier for you when dealing with larger accountancy firms. They may have specialists in particular areas but you should look for someone who can distill all the information you need.

They offer guaranteed service levels

Without a guarantee, the level of service you get may depend on how much time they have to spend on you. That may be affected by their knowledge of the contracting business or by how many other clients they need to service. It’s also worth looking for a money-back guarantee if their service falls short of expectations.

They offer regular tax planning reviews

Your personal circumstances change all the time. New contracts and new income streams can change throughout the tax year, so you should be able to talk regularly to your contractor accountant to find out ways of maximising your take home pay.

You get IR35 contract reviews

Not every accountant has the ability to deal with IR35 status checks as this is an area that is often dealt with by an employment status specialist. But many of the contractor accountants we deal with have brought in the necessary expertise and can provide IR35 checks for free, in addition to their everyday accountancy work.

You don’t need to check that they understand DOTAS

Thousands of contractors have been caught out in the past by what HMRC describes as “aggressive tax avoidance” schemes and some tax planning activities have to be disclosed under “Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes”. This is a highly dynamic area of tax planning and if you use tax planning then your contractor accountant has to be up to date with the latest DOTAS developments.

They are on top of Government and HMRC changes

Good contractor accountants have a great understanding of possible changes the Government has in store for contractors. This can be specific to tax and employment law as well as more general to the recruitment industry. With their expert knowledge, they will be able to offer you excellent advice about options for the future and give you the security of knowing you are in capable hands.

At Contracting Wise, we offer assistance with every aspect of contracting – to speak to a member of our team, call 0203 642 8679

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