This month I was really pleased to be able to welcome Nichola Hawden of Harris and Co Chartered Accountants to talk to us all about ‘How to get the most out of the tax man and your accountant.’
Nichola very kindly took us through simple tax planning tips for small businesses and also spoke about how to get value for money from your accountant.
Nichola took lots of questions from the group. From this I could see that one thing is clear – no two businesses or personal situations are alike. This is complicated stuff (unless you’re an accountant!) so I’d advise speaking to a professional if you need help with your particular situation.
Below I’ve summarised some of Nichola’s points for getting more from your accountant.
Choose an accountant you can talk to
The main reason for this is that as it’s your business you need to understand your own accounts. Make sure you feel comfortable to ask questions so you know what’s what.
Ask for a meeting to discuss your accounts
By meeting with your accountant you can tell them a bit about your personal situation, so they will be in a better position to help you overall, rather than just with your business.
For instance, usually your accountant will help you get as much as you can out of your business in the most cost-efficient way. However, if you’re looking to take out a mortgage the bank will be looking for healthy books. In this case you may be better off not claiming for all those expenses right now so your business looks healthier and you’re more likely to get a mortgage offer.
Check your accountant doesn’t charge for emails and phone calls
You’re doing your books and have a question about your data, but you know that your accountant will charge you for a phone call to query it, so you muddle on through to save money and potentially make errors which will later cost money to rectify.
If you choose an accountant that you can readily get advice from then you’re more likely to ask those niggling questions and ensure that you’re doing everything correctly from the start, thus avoiding nasty messes that need to be cleared up later.
Check your spreadsheets add up
Before handing your books over to your accountant, have a quick check that everything adds up. Having to check your maths takes up your accountants time and can take them away from seeing the bigger picture.
Speak to your accountant before making any big decisions
You might think it’s always best to write as much as possible off against the business, but sometimes it can cost you more than if you keep your assets personal. For instance your accountant will be able to advise you whether it would be more expensive for you to have a company car or have a family car which is used for business.
Will you get updates?
The world of finance changes continuously. Many accountants will send out newsletters to keep you up-to-date with changes that will affect you.
Need to call HMRC?
If you call HMRC it’s likely you’ll be on hold for a while before getting through to someone. Did you know that your accountant will have a priority line that will be answered more quickly? Next time you have to make that call, just ask if your accountant can do it on your behalf!
If you’d like to speak to Nichola or find out more about Harris and Co, go to their website or call 01226 282 461.