Do I need to pay an accountant for financial and tax advice?

Depending on the seniority and geographical location of the professional advisor, fees can range from £120 to £400 an hour.

A competent bookkeeper can range from £8 to £15 an hour, and there are online bookkeeping services available at attractive monthly rates from under £100 a month.

When assessing the relative value for money aspect of paying a professional, you have to examine two aspects of your financial affairs. Firstly, the volume of transactions and secondly, the complexity of those transactions. It costs just as much to record, analyse and compute ten transactions totalling £10 thousand as £100 thousand. Equally, it will cost more to analyse £10 thousand when it is made up of a variety of different type and sizes of amounts than it will analyse £100 thousand comprising a small number of simple amounts.

When deciding on whether to use professional help with accounts and tax, bear in mind there is a comprehensive source of free information at the HMRC. The HMRC website here will guide you through all the tax laws which apply to your situation and you can get free copies of any information leaflets you need at any time.

Also, if you need to talk through a specific tax problem or query, you can either pick up the phone or make an appointment to go and see someone at your local Tax Office. There is an argument that says this advice is just as good as the advice you will get from an expensive accountant. Furthermore, you can go back to the Tax Office whenever and however often you like and it won't cost you a penny, except in time and effort.

When you pay a professional to do your accounts and tax returns, what you are paying for is peace of mind and keeping your attention focused on the job in hand, for example, earning your own fees. However, if you feel you are competent enough to keep your own accounts and submit your own tax returns, you can, of course, save yourself a substantial amount of money. It is a question of balance and your own expertise and finances.

Article by Angela Brooks Wong, Tax Relief.

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