A new year brings with it a whole host of new things that you need to buy and pay for, so where does your accountant come in? Since they’re a fountain of knowledge that will see you paying the right tax and not a penny more, it pays to pick their brains at this time of year. To get you off to a fast start we’ve put together half a dozen questions that you need to get answers to.
Are Your Fees Changing?
This is one of the things you often forget about, but it’s a big part of your monthly budgeting. Most accountants will give you fair warning that they’re putting their prices up, and normally only do so to track inflation. Be proactive and ask the question so that you know whether your books will be approximately as much as last year, or a few pennies more.
What Format Do You Want My Accounts in?
Saving your accountant time will always save you money. You may think that a set of accountants takes a set time to do, but that’s just not the case. The more complex your layout, and the more places they have to look for that missing figure, the longer it will take.
As most accountants invoice a simple hourly rate, it’s not hard to see why it’s so important to make life easy for them. Not only that, but if you lay your figures out in the way they like them, then it’ll be easy to ensure nothing is missed the first time around. Sounds ideal for peace of mind doesn’t it!
When Should I Submit My Accounts to You?
It’s no use submitting your accountants on the day they’re due to be settled with the revenue and hoping for the best. A little forward planning will allow you to get your books in early so that your accountant isn’t too busy. Not sure when that time of the year is? All you need to do is ask and they’ll happily fill you in.
That way you’re not only guaranteeing that you get your accountants submitted in plenty of time. You’re also ensuring a speedy return and a far smaller headache if it turns out you’ve omitted to record anything.
Am I Entitled to Any New Allowance This Year?
Every year the government make small tweaks to the tax system to keep it running smoothly. As someone with a full-time job and a host of other commitments this can be a bit of a nightmare, but that’s where your accountant comes in.
Feel free to ask them about any new breaks or allowances that have been brought in, and how they may impact your household finances. You never know, you might find that your threshold has changed and that it looks like you can afford that two-week break in Spain after all!
Get in early, ask the question, and write down the answer. It’s really all you need to do once you’ve found the right person, and it’s something that will save you a lot of time, money, and energy later on in the year.
What Can I Offset Against My Tax?
There are so many ways that things become tax deductible that it can seem impossible to do anything other than pay too much tax. But never fear, because once again your accountant will talk you through everything you need to know.
A quick refresher in a couple of minutes is all it will take to get you back up to speed, and once you have the right information you’ll be surprised what you can do with it. If you’re uncertain at any point, then by all means get back in touch with them for additional clarification. It’s what they do for a living, so they won’t mind a quick call or email every now and again.
Is There Anything I Need to Consider Before Making Large One-Off Purchases?
This is especially important to ask if you’re self-employed and are thinking about retooling, or restocking, or anything along those lines. It can be hard to know how to use the tax system to your advantage in way that’s ethical and legal. But, once again this is where your accountant will help you fill in the blanks.
If you’re thinking about buying a new van for work but it’s not an urgent priority, then there may be a certain time of the tax year that’s best to do so in. If you ask the question then you’ll know the answer, and you’ll be able to plan accordingly.
‘Planning’ really is the operative word here folks. It’s what will enable you to enjoy nothing by smooth sailing right the way through the year.
About the author:
Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.