It recently came to the attention of the inniAccounts statisticians that, every month, 4000 people conduct Google searches for online accounting services using the term ‘contractor accountant’. This seems fair enough: you’re a contractor, you need an accountant…typing the two words makes perfect sense, and as a result the internet is full of sites containing ‘contractor accountant directories’ or similar such tools.
But descriptions of what a contractor accountant actually does seem to be thinner on the ground. So what the hell do we do? What can you expect from us? Why choose a contractor accountant over a non-prefixed accountant? Do we have special powers, like superheroes (sadly, in my case, the answer to the final question is no, but I can help with the others)?
As an accountant with many years experience working with contractors and freelancers, I suppose I fall into this mysterious category, although I’ve never introduced myself at a dinner party as a ‘contractor accountant’. However, I do think that the term is useful if it means that contractors are able to find an excellent, specialist accountant to handle their financial affairs.
So here are my tips hunting down a specialist ‘contractor accountant’, and what you should expect from them if they’re going to earn their title:
- Expertise: only a company tailored specifically towards contractors and freelancers, like inniAccounts, will have a sufficient understanding of the tax issues involved in running a contracting business, like tax legislation, IR35, and corporation tax laws, to offer you the best service.
- Versatility: the best contractor accountants should not only have expert knowledge, they should have taken the time to get to know your business and your specific requirements. That way they’ll be able to tailor their services to suit your needs. For example, at inniAccounts we can advise you on how best to divide your earnings between salary and dividends, and how to get the most from your expenses.
- Online access: there are a number of good reasons why some contractor accountants, like inniAccounts, have developed a suite of online accounting software to accompany their face-to-face service. Firstly, being able to access your accounts online removes the burden of creating and sending endless excel spreadsheets back and forth. What’s more, you can always view your financial information in real time, rather than waiting for your accountant’s report. Online accounting also means you’re no longer at the mercy of your hard drive, so if you need to access some numbers while you’re at a client’s site all you’ll need is an internet connection. And if the worst happens and your laptop is stolen or crashes, you won’t lose sensitive financial data.
- Value: like all the best online accounting services, inniAccounts will provide a complete accountancy service for a great value, fixed monthly fee. Our premium package includes dedicated accounting support, completion of self assessment, VAT, PAYE and corporation tax returns. And of course we’ll prepare and submit your year-end accounts, plus many more extras, all for £74.95 per month. Make sure you look for a service with transparent pricing, so you can understand exactly what your subscription includes, to avoid being hit with unexpected additional fees at year end.
- A comprehensive service offering: many contractor accountancy packages include things like IR35 advice and completion of your annual self assessment return, but we go the extra mile. For instance, if you are just starting out, we can also set up a company for you, register you for PAYE and VAT, and provide advice and support when you need it.
In a nutshell, the ideal contractor accountant is versatile, knowledgeable and offers great value for money. It’s well worth taking the time to locate a good one and take advantage of the expertise on offer – and if this article has inspired you to do just that, we think you’re already in the right place. Why not take an inniAccounts tour and see whether you agree?