If you’re a contractor, freelancer or small business, understanding the ins and outs of your company tax affairs is probably the last thing on your mind. Claire Johnson, Managing Director of SJD Accountancy, outlines why appointing an accountant can make good business sense.

When you work for yourself every penny counts, from the money coming in, to the money going out. Keeping a check on it all is a job in itself, yet it’s easy to see an accountant as just another expense. But there are many good reasons why spending that little bit extra to get a good accountant can actually help grow your business. Here are my top five benefits an accountant can bring to your business.

1. It can save you time

When you start working for yourself, be it as a contractor, a limited company owner, a freelancer or consultant, your priority is to generate business and fulfill the work you have won.

Having to do the paperwork, keeping abreast of what you have spent and what is coming in can be time consuming and actually take time away from the task in hand.

Employing an accountant, who is au fait with the latest tax laws, rules and regulations and deadlines, not to mention one who completely understands what format HM Revenue and Customs requires all the information, can save you hours and hours of time trawling through HMRC’s website, leaving you to use your time more efficiently.

2. Reduce your tax liability

A good accountant will understand how to save you money and be able to give you good counsel on the most tax efficient way of running your business.

Knowing the best way to operate – whether it is as self employed or a limited company – and the most tax efficient way to take money out of your company is something they will guide you on, based on your individual circumstances and situation.

They will go through paying yourself through dividends, understanding what you can and can’t claim through company expenses and the benefits of using the flat rate VAT scheme.

The flat rate VAT scheme (FRS) is a government incentive which allows you to charge VAT on invoices at the standard rate (20% in 2014) but pay HMRC back at a lower percentage. For example, if you are an IT consultant, with very few VAT chargeable expenses you would only pay 14.5% back to HMRC on the flat rate VAT scheme, keeping the difference as your profit.

A good accountant will be able to give you the best advice on whether the FRS will suit and financially benefit your business.

3. Prevent you receiving hefty tax penalties and fines

One of the key things when it comes to finances and working for yourself is keeping on top of the paperwork and avoiding any late penalty fines. For some people this is part of the job that they are happy to keep up to date with. For others, having an accountant makes sense so they don’t need to worry about looming dates, be familiar with the latest legislation and ensures that they never miss a tax deadline.

Keeping abreast of your tax submissions whether with the support of an accountant or not will help keep your company bank balance healthier by avoiding fines which can range between £150 for a day late submission of annual accounts to a whopping £1,500 fine for a six month delay.

This is just the penalties incurred if you are late submitting your annual accounts – this doesn’t include the fines if you are late, or submit your forms incorrectly for your self-assessment tax return, VAT return and corporation tax. Your accountant will keep on top of your deadlines so you don’t have to.

4. Help you to grow your business

A good accountant will be a great source of advice and wisdom in helping you to grow and develop your business.

Typically clients are allocated their own dedicated accountant, so from day one you will work with an accountant who will understand the ins and outs of your business and take great pride in seeing your business succeed.

5. Remove your tax worries

Tax is complex. Even HMRC’s guide to expenses is over 100 pages long, so it comes as no surprise that so many small business owners worry about their tax affairs.

Having to remember to: prepare your company year-end accounts, prepare abbreviated company accounts where appropriate, sort out your personal tax return, prepare corporation tax computations and Returns, VAT calculation submissions, liaise with HM Revenue and Customs, deal with Companies House and sort your payroll is a burden that can all be avoided with the right accountant.

Your accountant will prepare everything you need, saving you money and bringing you peace of mind, while allowing you to get on with running your business.

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