Do I need an accountant if I am self-employed?

Do I need an accountant if I am self-employed

Being self-employed is great for having freedom in your business.

You get to make decisions yourself without needing to seek permission from anybody else. As long as you’re happy with how you do things, little else can get in the way.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re in the position to handle absolutely everything by yourself.

Some matters, like finances, are complicated no matter how many people are involved. Self-employed accounting help makes good business sense for a number of reasons which we’ll get into below.

Why do self-employed workers turn to accountants for help?

Being self-employed might mean more freedom, but it also means a lot more responsibility. Everything rests with you, and how smoothly (and profitably) your business operates depends on the choices you make and the work you put in.

Choosing to do fewer jobs in a day, making the trade off of profit versus downtime, is a choice that a self-employed worker can make more or less freely.

Meeting obligations regarding finances and tax, though, is much more pressing and inflexible.

Self-employment accounts are likely to be far less complex than those for companies who hire multiple staff and have the various considerations that come with that to contend with. Nevertheless, accounts for a self-employed individual can make a huge difference for structuring their work and making sense of finances.

Accountants help with all manner of processes and issues relating to businesses and their financial obligations, whether that’s structuring and organising data that helps them understand profits and losses, or making obligatory tax returns to HMRC.

Accountants understand the legislation behind these processes inside and out, giving them a strong grasp of loopholes and available tricks to help make business that little bit more profitable.

These things are often not common knowledge for those who simply fumble through their taxes once a year and don’t research further into the various laws and regulations that inform their obligations.

But why use an accountant for something that you’re allowed to do yourself? More often than not, it boils down to time and convenience.

Reasons to have an accountant for self-employed and contractors

Some people working for themselves—or thinking of doing so in future—may struggle to understand why they might need the help of an accountant. After all, there’s only so much work a single person can do. How complicated can it get?

First, let’s look at what sole traders need to do in terms of tax and reporting their earnings back to HMRC.

Self-employed workers need to complete a self assessment tax return to determine the amount of income tax and National Insurance they must pay. For this, they must register with HMRC so they can receive their unique reference number.

From there, the returns can be filed the old-fashioned way using paper forms, or they can be done online.

While a relatively straightforward business and income model may not be too complex to file, other forms of income can mean additional forms. This means that money coming in from abroad or from property investments also needs to be factored in to your returns, making the process more complicated the more sources of profit you have.

Additionally, many sole traders will want to claim for business expenses, since the likelihood is that you’ve had to purchase tools and equipment yourself without a company to provide them for your work.

There are several reasons that some dealing with self-employed account work might turn to an accountant for help.

Complexity

While there is plenty of advice available from GOV and other sources for self assessment tax returns, not everybody has the capacity to sit and digest this information to the required degree. Some traders’ situations will be more complex due to the nature of their business, or multiple passive income streams as discussed above.

Sole traders who struggle with numbers and legislative jargon may prefer to get the help of a self-employed accountant who can help them out and clarify the process while doing so.

Time

It could be that a sole trader working in a high-demand field simply doesn’t have the time to sit and process the information needed to carry out their returns. By getting the help of an accountant, the task can be left in capable hands while they continue with their busy schedule.

Or, it could be that the deadline looms close and they need the return completed quickly to avoid the associated penalty. Whatever the reason for time being in short supply, an accountant can help by approaching the task with a wealth of knowledge and experience already to hand.

This allows them to process the tax returns smoothly and accurately without needing to take the time to familiarise themselves.

Accuracy

Thanks to their aforementioned familiarity with the tax returns process, accountants are able to nail all the necessary details easily. This level of accuracy is attractive if you’ve never completed a self assessment tax return before and don’t want to miss anything vital that could delay your submission or see it needing to be supplemented with additional information.

As a sole trader, if you want to do things once and do them right, then getting an accountant to help is a no-brainer. Even if you do fill out your own self assessment, having an accountant to check and verify your accuracy is also a good use of their time, and ensures you’re not kicking yourself later when HMRC flags an issue.

Aside from these factors, having an accountant help with your self assessment returns could prove to be more fruitful thanks to their knowledge of what can be done within the system.

There may be expenses you didn’t know you could claim which an accountant can advise and guide you on, allowing you to earn back more for the given year than you originally would have taken.

Tax returns aren’t the only matters that accountants for the self-employed can help with. Diligent bookkeeping is a wise idea for sole traders since it’s the only evidence of your transactions and financial activities that you’ll have, should the need for it ever arise.

If HMRC ever wants to investigate you further, you’ll need this proof. Bookkeeping is another activity that can be done by the individual, but in the hands of an accountant, it’s done accurately and swiftly.

This means keeping track of your invoices and bank statements alongside day-to-day transactions. These things may not be important on the average day, but should the need ever arise, you’ll wish you had records.

Additionally, an accountant can give self-employed workers sound advice on their expenses and how to manage their business better from a financial standpoint. They could also advise on how to expand the business if the trader is looking to hire additional help or make an investment pertaining to the business.

Accountants can do a lot for sole traders when it comes to money and how it should be spent, so their potential services are many and the knowledge they can pass on is often invaluable.

Can I be self-employed without an accountant?

You don’t legally need to have an accountant’s help if you want to work for yourself, and some might go their whole careers without ever consulting the help of an accountant.

However, while not mandatory, it makes sound business sense to gain the help of an accountant if you have any issues with finances, be that organising transaction information, managing debt, or filing taxes.

All of these things can be done by an individual—indeed, self assessment needs only the individual making the claim for themselves—but accountants undergo a lot of education and training to get them to the position they’re in to understand financial matters so well.

Where can I find an accountant?

Accountants for the self-employed in Manchester are well and truly covered.

At MCC Accountants, we specialise in accounting services for small business clients including sole traders and self-employed professionals, and we’ve provided business to over a hundred clients who have come to trust our knowledge and expertise. For an accountant in Manchester, Salford, Cheadle, and surrounding areas, get in touch with us today.

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