Well you probably wouldn’t know whether you are paying too much tax or not.
Self-assessment is what it says.
HMRC do not as a matter of course check what has been filed with them. Just because HMRC haven’t investigated doesn’t mean what’s been submitted is correct. It could be that you are paying too much or too little tax, you wouldn’t know.
It may be years later when HMRC do a routine check that you may find things haven’t been done properly and you are looking at fines & penalties along with the back tax that you may not be able to afford any more. Alternatively you could have paid too much tax for the past few years by not claiming everything that you could (this happened in both cases with new clients of ours where we had to correct past years).
It is a little known fact that the terms ‘accountant or tax advisor’ are not legally protected. Anyone can set themselves up and call themselves an accountant and tax advisor.
Preparing accounts, tax compliance & planning are a specialised job. ICAEW Chartered Accountants, for example, have to undergo a rigorous exam regime and on the job training for many years before they even qualify. After they qualify they have to keep up to date with continuing professional education and be regulated to ensure their standards are up to date.
Now for very simple sole trader I am sure that you could do your self-assessment yourself or get an ‘un-qualfied’ accountant to do it for you.
But how long would you spend doing it and can you be sure you have done it everything properly.
So What should you do?
Better to pick an accountant or tax advisor that is CCAB qualified and regulated or a Chartered Tax Advisor. Picking unregulated accountants or members of another body could be a lottery.
Don’t do it yourself. Even if you are a small freelancer, accountants fees should not be that expensive and they are tax deductible so the effective cost is only 60% if are a higher rate taxpayer.
Check credentials – Are they qualified to do the job you have engaged them for. Where have they trained, what professional body do they belong to, what experience do they have. Check the website of the professional body and make sure they are who they say.
Do they carry professional indemnity insurance. All CCAB accountants have to.
Are they making unrealistic claims such as a great new scheme where you will pay much less tax – usually if something appears to be too good to be true it is too good to be true.
If you are unsure contact us and we will give you a free brief no-obligation tax review.
Paul Stankiewicz is the owner and principal at Paul Marks & Co Chartered Accountants which is the trading name of Paul Marks Ltd a Limited Company registered in England and Wales (registered number 4487645). This article is designed for the information of readers only and is the opinion of the author only. Readers should not act on any of the information contained in this article without seeking professional advice. Nothing in this article constitutes advice, nor does the transmission, downloading or sending of any information or the Material create any contractual relationship. Links to third party websites are provided as a convenience to the reader, Paul Marks Ltd does not control and is not responsible for any of those websites or their content.Paul Stankiewicz and Paul Marks Ltd accepts no liability or responsibility whatsoever for any loss or damage suffered by any user of the information contained on or accessed through this article or the Material downloaded.