Are you a Freelancer making your way in the Gig Economy? Living off your creativity brings with it a huge amount of satisfaction and the feeling of being independent, your own boss. But there are certain things that can burst that bubble, one of which is sorting out your accounts and (sorry we’ve got to say it) paying tax. This generally means hiring an Accountant, but many Accountants are not thinking on the same level as you, they are your grey, number crunching, bean counters, but trust us there are a few out there who are forward thinking and pro-active (Abacus Accountancy), to find them you just need to ask the right questions.
Here’s a few that will help:
1. Are they experienced at working with freelancers?
Many accountancy practices work only with freelance or contract professionals. Find out how many clients they have, and how many in your specific sector. Increased experience makes it more likely that your accountant will be able to identify potential pitfalls and helping you to avoid them.
2. Do they have knowledge of relevant tax laws issues for freelancers?
There is a significant amount of tax law that relates specifically, or mainly, to freelancers and contractors, such as IR35, which looks at whether the independent worker should be taxed as an employee.
3. Do they use cloud accountancy software?
The accounting profession has changed out of all recognition in recent years. It’s now possible for accountants to work with their clients in real-time, helping you to pay the right amount of tax at every bill, and to avoid bookkeeping errors building up. Does your prospective accountant use these tools? No! Then remove them from your short list.
4. What is the fee structure?
Some accountants charge their clients a fixed fee per year or per month, others charge per hour worked. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages to them. For example, if your accountant charges fixed fees, what do those fees cover, and, more importantly, what do they not cover? If your accountant charges per hour, what happens when a member of their staff makes a mistake which has to be corrected — do they bill you for the time spent correcting the error?
5. Are they qualified?
Probably the most direct of the questions posed, but if you’re not keen to pose this in person or face-to-face, the answer can normally be arrived at by a quick glance of their website. Bear in mind the reason you’re asking though; the term ‘accountant,’ unlike the terms ‘doctor’ and ‘solicitor,’ is not legally protected, in other words anyone can call themselves an ‘accountant.’ Being qualified does not automatically make an individual a good accountant, but if you choose a qualified accountant then you can be sure that this person has insurance to cover any claims you make against them, and a professional institute to which you can complain if you are not happy with the accountant’s service.
6. Do you trust them?
Ideally, you should look at several accountants before deciding which to engage and, if possible, try to arrange a meeting or strike up a thorough email conversation with them. This will help you decide whether they are able to comprehensively answer your questions and show the right level of professionalism and respect to you. Ask for recommendations from your own contacts or through social media, you may find that a fellow freelancer could refer you to a great accountant.
So having asked these questions you are now in a position to hook yourself up with an decent Accountant, or save yourself some time and get a great Accountant – we’re always happy to talk business 🙂 Call 01376343535 or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org