Do I need an accountant for Self Assessment?

HMRC doesn’t legally require you to have an accountant submit a Self Assessment on your behalf, so technically, you don’t need one for that particular reason. But you may need to hire an accountant for other reasons that aren’t mandatory. Mainly due to your personal circumstances and preferences. 

Then hiring an accountant can be very useful for your business and your stress levels. This article will cover the following:

  • Help you make a more informed decision whether to hire an accountant to complete a Self-Assessment. 
  • What you should look for when hiring an accountant. 

How do I find the right accountant for my business?

You may need to hire an accountant for your Self Assessment if: 

  • You’re not great at completing numerical tasks. 
  • You often get stressed when trying to do your Self-Assessment. 
  • You don’t have time to do financial admin because you’re too busy doing other business tasks. 
  • You don’t like doing financial admin. 
  • You’re not good at being organised.
  • You find it hard to understand financial and legal jargon.

Below are some tips on how to find an accountant.

Reach out to your network for recommendations

 It can give you peace of mind knowing that your accountant comes highly recommended by someone you trust. This should be the first method of looking for one, as it could save you a lot of time looking outside of your network. 

Check their qualifications

Regardless if you’ve had a recommendation from someone in your network, make sure you check their qualifications. Most accountants will publicly display their qualifications, and you will often see acronyms such as ICAEW, ICAS, CIMA or ACCA. 

You can do this by either contacting the relevant organisation directly to check if they are registered with them or search their directory. If they are not on there, it’s probably not a good idea to use them. 

Find and verify reviews

If you can’t find anyone from within your network, look outside it, check for accountants who have strong recommendations on their website or via Trust Pilot and Feefo

If possible, reach out to the people who gave the recommendations to ask for more information on their experience.  If you can’t find any reviews, ask them to provide some. Try to focus on finding reviews from businesses that are at a similar stage to yours.  

Once you’ve found one or more potential accountants, here are some questions you can ask them to help make a decision. 

Questions to ask an accountant

We’ve also listed some questions you can ask an accountant you’re considering to determine if their firm is the right fit for you, including:

How much do you charge? 

This is probably the most important question because it can be a waste of time speaking to an accountant you can’t afford. 

What is included in the price? 

Get this in writing, so you both have clear expectations of what is required for the price you pay. This will help you to compare value easily. 

Why should I choose you over another accountant?

It’s important to get accountants to make it clear to you what their competitive advantage is. Don’t settle for meaningless marketing jargon; dig deeper.  Remember, it’s on them to convince you to take them on, not the other way around. 

Who will be my point of contact? 

Regardless of if the firm you’re working with has multiple accountants, it’s better to have one person who is specifically focused on your account. Make sure this is made clear before agreeing to anything. 

What are your contact methods? 

Your accountant should agree to the communication style you prefer, whether face-to-face, video calls, or phone calls. It’s also good to speak even if nothing pressing is happening. This can flag things that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. 

How much experience do you have in my field? 

Depending on your business, you may want an accountant with general knowledge or a specialist in your field. Even if you are niche the most important thing to focus on is their skill level as an accountant. Everything else can often be quickly learnt. 

What is the full range of services you provide?

As you grow your business, the types of services you’ll need might change, e.g. international transactions. If the accountant you’re speaking to has a wide range of services, it can be more attractive as you’ll be able to stick with them as your business grows. This will save you the hassle of finding a new accountant later on. 

How will you make sure I don’t miss tax deadlines? 

This is the most important question, as this is the main reason why you’re hiring them. Missing the Self-Assessment deadline comes with penalties from HMRC. Your accuntant should have proven strategies to ensure that never happens.  

On the flip side, it’s more likely that you’re better off doing it yourself if you’re:

  • Comfortable doing numerical tasks
  • Have a good understanding of financial and legal jargon 
  • Naturally organised 
  • Don’t find financial admin stressful 
  • Able to take the time to do your Self Assessment

If you’re still unsure about which way to go, a good idea might be to attempt to do it yourself. But, before you submit it, get an accountant to check everything.  

This will give you a more accurate picture of how capable you are at completing a Self Assessment. If you do well, then you can be more confident of doing it yourself successfully. If you don’t, it’s probably better to hire that accountant for the future. 

Countingup can help you run your business effectively

Whichever option you choose, Countingup, the 2-in-1 business current account with built-in accounting software, will help you and/or your accountant to submit accurate Self Assessments. 

Using Countingup means you have access to:

  • Tax Estimates – You and/or your accountant will be ahead of the game as we’ll provide a rough estimate of how much you’ll have to pay. 
  • Real-time profit/loss indicator – This is very useful as you’re charged tax on your profit, not your revenue. 
  • Directly share data with your accountant – With all your financial data in one place, there is no need for your accountant to email for missing information.

Make your Self Assessment simpler with Countingup