Before you hire a new accountant – a checklist

To help you compare accountants effectively, try this simple checklist which you can use when talking to prospective accountants.

Firm Profile

  • Is the accountant a contractor specialist, or an accountant which has a significant number of contractor clients?
  • When was the firm established?
  • How many qualified staff does the firm employ?
  • How many contractors are assigned to each account manager?

Starting Up

  • How much does the company charge for setting up a new limited company?
  • Any charges for the initial tax registrations (VAT, Payroll, Corporation Tax)?
  • Will the accountant set up a bank account for your company (if required)?
  • Are there any other initial charges on top of the ongoing monthly fee?
  • Are there any penalties or tie-in clauses if the contractor wishes to leave?
  • What are the hourly or one-off fees for completing accounts from a previous accountant?

Costs

  • What monthly fees does the accountant charge?
  • If there are several fee bands, is it clear what is included in each band?

What’s Included?

  • What tasks will the accountant carry out on behalf of your company?

High level tasks typically include:

  • Monthly book-keeping
  • Administering your company payroll
  • Calculating your VAT liabilities each quarter
  • Quarterly management accounts
  • Year end company accounts
  • Completing your PAYE returns (P35, P14, P11d)
  • Filing your Confirmation Statement (formerly Annual Return) with Companies House
  • Filing your Corporation Tax return (CT600)
  • Dealing with the authorities on an ongoing basis (HMRC, Companies House)
  • Dividend planning advice
  • Will the accountant deal with all correspondence with HMRC and Companies House?
  • Are there additional charges if the company has more than one employee?
  • Will the accountant deal with any tax enquiries. If not, what charges apply?

Technology

  • How does the accountant capture the contractor’s data on an ongoing basis?
  • Does the accountant have an online accounting system? If so, how extensive is it?
  • Can you use an existing accountancy software package, or service?
  • Can you see a demo of the accounting system before signing up?

Extras

  • Does the monthly fee include any IR35 contract reviews?
  • Are IR35 contract reviews carried out by employment status specialists?
  • Does the accountant provide any insurances within the monthly fee?
  • Will they complete your personal tax return, and will this service cost extra?
  • Will they provide you with a registered office address, and will this service cost extra?
  • Will the accountant provide references for mortgage companies or lettings agents?