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selfsufficientish

accountants

Looks like I might have to get myself an accountant. There seems to be loads of choice here in Bristol and I don't know anything about what I should be looking for. Is it important that they belong to a regualting body? SOme seem to offer 'free' initial meetings, surley that should be free anyway?
sean

What do you need one for? (Roughly, obviously I'm not asking you to post your financial details.)
selfsufficientish

I am becoming self employed so will need one to sort out my tax.
sean

I don't think it's that complicated to do yourself. With a bit of luck someone with more experience will be along in a minute.
hedgewitch

I don't think you actually need to have any formal training or qualifications to start up as an accountant. If possible, go with a recommendation from someone you trust. Shop around on price and be clear what services they are offering for their charges.
hedgewitch

Oh - try and go with someone who has an idea about your area of business too. This can be useful if you have special requirements - e.g. sub-contracter, wanting to grow your business, or in a particular sector services or retail etc.

If you have a particular software you want to use, check that with them. Some happily work with anything, others will want you to complete their own spreadsheets that might be OK or might be designed more for their convenience than for yours.

I made a checklist of this kind of stuff and rang a lot and asked them my questions. I did a sample of big and small and then met about three likely ones in person. In a nice way, treat them like you are conducting an interview. As with solicitors, you need to be firm to be sure of what you are getting and for how much.

No-one charged me at all for this initial time. If there had been any mention of that I'd've been off.

Good luck!
wellington womble

Unless your tax affairs are horribly complicated (or your starting up a limited company) you probably don't need one. There are two figures Mr Taxman is interested in. What you spent on things that you're allowed to take off before you get taxed, and what's left (on which you calculate tax owed at a percentage) Oh - and you have to keep all your receipts. Tradition demands that they are kept in a shoebox in no particular order, but I put mine in a envelope every month, and start new one on the first - it makes it easier to find stuff.

Just keep a record of everything that you spend (excel is very good for this - I do a tabbed page for every month also) and make sure you include EVERYTHING that you spend/make on 'the business' and where it came from. A percentage of your heat and light if you work from home, your 'uniform', petrol, materials etc etc. Ring up Mr Taxman and tell him you are self employed, and they will always be happy to advise you on whther something is allowable or not, and what you need to do. They may even be able to send you out some useful bumf.
hedgewitch

wellington womble wrote:
Ring up Mr Taxman and tell him you are self employed, and they will always be happy to advise you on whther something is allowable or not, and what you need to do. They may even be able to send you out some useful bumf.


We've found them suprisingly helpful, and they send out useful CDs and paper stuff too.

I should've said that we are a limited company, hence probably have different needs Embarassed
alison

We got ours by contacting Business Link, and having an hour free consoltation with an advisor, to discuss our finances, decided we liked the man and he has been our accountant ever since.
MarkS

how complicated are you intending your business to be?

you can go a long way on common sense, the IR website a couple of books and a copy of sage or similar.

I did accounts for my limited company for nearly 10 years. paye, vat, companies house, corporation tax and personal tax. It isnt *that* difficult.

There are a few web sites that are good for reading. Im told the FSB is very good (not that I ever joined).

What sort of things are you intending to do?
selfsufficientish

good information people, thanks for that.

Can't really say exactly what I am going to do yet I am afraid.
tahir

selfsufficientish wrote:
Can't really say exactly what I am going to do yet I am afraid.


Good luck, whatever it is Wink
selfsufficientish

cheers Tahir, I hate having to be sectrative (not my choice) will let you know in January. It should benefit downsizer too. Very Happy
Marionb

Dont the accounts have to be "certified " by an accountant or something?? Confused
wellington womble

Only for a limited company, not for an individual trading as a sole trader, when your 'company' is not really seperate from you, as far as the Taxman is concerned.
moonwind

Here's a link to the Gov website and the What do I need to do to go Self Employed page.

As others have said the IR seem to be much improved at talking to "ordinary" people.

Depends what your plans are and how complicated as to your needs for an accountant.

Also what your estimated turnover will be, (net) as to whether it would be beneficial to you.

i.e If what an accountant can save you in one year is cancelled out by their charges being higher than the saving made.

You can take your book in once a year and get a tax inspector to go through your paperwork with you no charge.

If you do go for an Accountant make sure you get a written quotation for the complete years tax affairs including any tax return completed, some seem to charge separately for this service and only quote for doing your end of year accounting (profit and loss accounts).

It seems prudent these days to take out a Tax Investigation Insurance each year which covers you in the case of the IR investigating you (apparantly it is a case of when rather than if these days ..well small business are easy to get to eh? ..ooh so cynical haha)

We have a good accountant now, he calls a spade a spade and talks in proper language, will help and explain things in plain English and does NOT rip us off.

Unfortunately this type of Accountant seems hard to find!

Good luck in whatever you are going to do, you can't beat being in charge of your own life.


Laughing


...edited ... and the link you need is


Gov Self Employed page


sorry forgot to put the link before DOH!!
MarkS

Marionb wrote:
Dont the accounts have to be "certified " by an accountant or something?? Confused


No. Not even for limited companies[1].

you do not need to be audited, you do not need to submit full accounts.

Although there seems to be plenty of accountants who neglect to tell people that.

The companies house website has the info on what exemptions are available to small & medium sized companies.

Mark


[1] As long as you count as a 'small' company ie turnover less than a couple of £million and you are not a special case, regulated by the fsa or similar. I would assume that most people here would qualify for the exemptions.
MarkS

selfsufficientish wrote:
Can't really say exactly what I am going to do yet I am afraid.


Shocked

I'll take that as you aren't telling rather than you dont know Wink

generally though, services? product sales? media? import/export?

some areas have much more complex rules that you really need a specialist accountant for. Vat on international trade, anything involving subsidies/grants. you dont want to be paying an accountant to find out as they go along.
tahir

selfsufficientish wrote:
cheers Tahir, I hate having to be sectrative (not my choice) will let you know in January. It should benefit downsizer too. Very Happy


Certainly sounds good
madmonk

I know??????????????????
MarkS

This is a link to a site which is used by accounting specialists. The anyanswers section is used to ask questions - not quite a forum, but that sort of thing. It is well worth having a good look through to pick up knowledge and get a feel for things.

You might need to register to get in, worth it though.

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/anyanswers/
selfsufficientish

Ok, I can now come clean with the goings on We (myself and my brother Dave) have signed up with Hodder and Stoughton to write a book called the Selfsufficientish Bible a massive 150 000 page book. Well actually we have signed up for a two book deal the second is to be announced.
selfsufficientish

Actually forgot to say how it will benefit downsizer, well I will need to mention references and source and no doubt this site will feature Very Happy
thos

Anyone can set themselves up as an accountant. However, I would urge you to use a member of one of the 'proper' bodies i.e. Chartered or Certified.

http://www.icaew.co.uk/index.cfm?route=109945

If you keep your records tidy, you can minimise the accountant's chargeable hours and therefore the costs.

Not that I'm biased or anything. This July I will have been a Chartered Accountant for 25 years!

Chartered Accountants do it by double entry.
thos

selfsufficientish wrote:
Ok, I can now come clean with the goings on We (myself and my brother Dave) have signed up with Hodder and Stoughton to write a book called the Selfsufficientish Bible a massive 150 000 page book. Well actually we have signed up for a two book deal the second is to be announced.


I hope you mean 150,000 words!
selfsufficientish

ahem, yes I meant words Embarassed

thanks for the link.
MarkS

congrats.

have you ever thought of moving to Ireland?

I understand that authors and artists dont pay tax there. Anyone know ?

In the uk there is an averaging scheme whereby authors can even out their income over several years.
dpack

or somewhere with no (or minimal )tax sounds good
a good acc is a profit not a charge
can your pubs recommend from experience ?
Chez

Our accountant lets us pay a set amount every month to cover an agreed amount of services - he's well worth it and he does save us money. He's also really happy for me to ring up and ask him daft questions regularly. This works much better for us than an annual bill Smile.

I do think it's important to get someone who understands your line of work, as other people have said. And I also think it's a good idea to go for someone certified or chartered (ours is Scottish chartered, which is apparently different again (but equally good, she adds, hastily!)), because then at least they have some accountability. Although I've also know one or two people who have had terrible experiences with very well thought of accountants - I think as with all business dealings, getting someone you like well enough to work with and take your issues to is very important.
selfsufficientish

I am talking with a friend about this later in the week. We have been recomded acc that deal with writers and artists but with the website as well and perhaps future 'green' non profit projects that I want to get involved in this is perhaps not the best option.

I have found an account who works with only ethical people and works for a handful of start up companies for free. - before you ask, no they are not taking on new clients Very Happy I like the sound of them and will meet up with them soon and find out if they are for me. Good to know that even your accountant is ethical.
Chez

I'm waging a campaign to make our accountant more ethical - he now shuffles his feet nervously and precedes suggestions with statements like "I know that this might not be very environmentally friendly, but you could ..." Smile.

Good luck with finding someone to suit you - and don't be afraid to 'shop around' and go and chat to a few before you make your decision.
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