Here are a few questions you might have before consulting with an accountant.
Q. Do I need to prepare a tax return?
A. If you operate a business then yes, definately. Also, if you have any other income that isn't taxed before you receive it, such as rental income, then you will also need to file a tax return.
Q. Can I do my own tax return?
A. Yes you can but bear in mind that accountants are trained to do this for the benefit of their clients. You may be able to complete your return and file it successfully but it may not be 100% correct and you may be paying the wrong amount of tax.
Q. Do directors need to complete tax returns?
A. There is no specific requirement to complete a tax return however you should check with an adviser as there are lots of different scenarios where HM Revenue & Customs will expect a return.
Q. When is a personal tax return due?
A. The deadline is usually the 31 January after the tax year. So if you're thinking about the 2015/16 tax year which runs from 6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016, your tax return must be filed no later than 31 January 2017.
Q. Can I file a paper return?
A. Currently, HMRC still allows paper returns but don't be surprised if this is completely phased out. The deadline for paper returns is sooner than electronic filing and is 31 October.
Q. What if I haven't filed a tax return but should have?
A. This needs to be brought up to date as soon as possible. HMRC impose some serious penalties if they find that you've not declared all of your income. Any penalties that they may apply are greatly reduced if you are upfront and honest.
Q. Do I need a qualified accountant?
A. No you don't. You don't actually need an accountant at all. As with any advisers, you should check what experience they have in handling the relevant matters, how long they have worked in the industry and whether they have any testimonials.
Q. Are accountants expensive?
A. That depends on how you look at it. Some accountants in the larger firms will be charged out at hundreds of pounds an hour but you'll get access to a whole range of specialists and many years of experience. If you don't need an expert with knowledge of the finer details then don't pay for it. There are lots of smaller firms with years of qualified experience who can give you the right advice at only a fraction of the cost.
Q. What will it cost to see an accountant for an initial meeting?
A. At WatsonCo, we don't think there should be a charge. You need to get to know the accountant and the accountant needs to get to know you - after all it could be either party that decides the fit isn't quite right - so this should be a free consultation.
This information is only accurate at the time of publishing and may become out of date in time so you should not rely on the above without seeking additional guidance.