A complete freelancer’s guide to hiring accountants
As a freelancer, you’re used to doing everything by yourself. However, if there’s probably one area that you’d like to delegate it's dealing with finances and taxes. If you’re starting in the freelance business, it’s never too early to seek an accountant’s service.
Here, David Murphy from Grenfell James Associates brings you the complete freelancer’s guide to hiring accountants.
What kind of expertise or service do you require?
You may be skilled at managing your personal finances. Accounting the business side of things, however, is a little more complicated. There are certain legal matters where you’ll need the services of an expert.
Accountants specialise in various services that are unique to freelancers or independent contractors. This means that they can help you with regards to freelance-specific tax expenses.
For example, if you’re working at home, an accountant can help claim part of your personal expenses like electricity. Accountants are also aware of any legislative changes that could affect you financially and legally.
Can accountants help you increase your income?
Managing your accounts, keeping all your income and expenses in order, and filing tax returns require considerable time. If you passed those tasks to an accountant instead, you’d have more time for income-generating activities or leisure. You can do a simple calculation and compare the hourly rate for an accountant with your own rate.
You can also save money by letting accountants make the correct claims on your behalf and avoid penalties from incorrect or late filing.
Where can I find one?
Start by asking for referrals from your fellow freelancers. You could also look around near your locale. Another excellent alternative is to search online or visit our freelancer accountant directory.
How to choose the right accountant?
Before, choosing an accountant, below are some common questions you should consider asking.
1. Do they have experience working with freelancers?
As a freelancer, you have multiple sources of income with a few unique business expenses. You can consult an accountant on how to legally classify them.
2. What is their manner of conducting work and communicating?
As a freelancer, you probably prefer maintaining your accounts electronically. See to it that your accountant is also adept at electronic communications and filing.
3. Do they protect confidential information?
If you’re sending confidential information like Employee Identification Numbers (EIN) online, seek assurances of a secure connection. For example, you should provide your sensitive details to their site using login details rather than email.
4. Is there any accounting software you should use?
If you’re using accounting software for bookkeeping, it would be helpful if the accountant also uses the same software. This will help facilitate the smooth transfer of files and reports.
5. Do they outsource any of their work to others?
As a freelancer, you’re aware that many businesses outsource their work. This time, however, consider asking the accountant if they will directly handle your account or pass it to freelancers like you.
6. What rates do they charge?
Before taking an accountant, you need to agree on their rate. Are you comfortable with a flat monthly rate or an hourly one?
7. What is the process of onboarding and preparing tax payments?
Some accountants will hand a checklist of documents that you have to provide. However, you need to confirm the specific information and papers that they will need from you.
8. What are the accountant’s credentials?
Since you’re handing out confidential information, it’s only prudent to check their credential first. Consider some of these verification steps:
- If you’re dealing with CPA, you can make enquiries to see if they have an active license.
- You can also ask for client references, and find out how it’s like to work with that accountant.
9. What else do I need to know?
- Most accountants are busy as the deadline for tax filings and payments draws near. So it’s best to hire one early before their schedule gets hectic.
- In the UK, Value Added Tax presents a challenge if you’re dealing with digital products or online services. It doesn’t matter if you’re income is below the VAT threshold. Anything sold online and outside the UK should be registered for VAT even if the amount is only £1.
Freelancers like to do things their way. However, it’s better to let experts manage your business taxes or accounts. Even if you already have an accountant, there’s no harm looking for a better service provider. It’s vital that you obtain a professional who specialises in handling your type of accounts.