Using a Tax Advisor or Accountant For Your Tax Return
A tax advisor or accountant can file your tax return for you, taking a lot of stress out of the process, but using them can come at a price. Learn the benefits and cost of using one.
If you need to file a self assessment tax return, you’ll already know there’s usually a lot of paperwork involved, not to mention the time it can take.
From registering for self assessment and setting up your account to actually filing the return of all your income from the previous tax year.
The amount of time, and hassle, this takes depends on your circumstances and how complicated your taxes are. One option to ease the burden is to employ a tax accountant to do most of the leg work for you.
What does an accountant or tax advisor do?
An account hired for filling out your tax return will do exactly that. They will ask you to send them details of your income and all of your expenses for the previous tax year.
For the next January 31 deadline, you’d need to send details of everything you earned from the tax year starting on 6 April 2020 and ending on 5 April 2021.
The accountant will go through the details of your income and work out how much tax you will need to pay. They do this by adding up all your income and then taking off any deductions, for example, anything that you don’t need to pay tax on such as business expenses or your personal tax allowance.
You can then appoint the accountant to log into your online tax account, or to file a paper tax return for you if you’d prefer (paper returns need to be completed by 31 October). They will use the online authorisation service to do this and will log on and file the return for you to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). You’ll receive an email or letter from the taxman confirming how much tax is due, and details of how to pay this.
How to find a good tax advisor
You don’t want just anybody filing your tax return, so it’s important to carry out some checks to make sure you have someone who is legally allowed to file it, and competent doing it. The following questions are worth asking when looking for an accountant:
- Has the accountant been recommended to you by someone you know and trust?
- What professional bodies do they belong to?
- Do they meet the standards set out by HMRC?
- Can they show you proof of indemnity insurance and a complaints procedure if something goes wrong?
- How much are the costs and will they let you know these in advance?
- Are they an expert in the area of tax you are looking for? For example, if you’re a self-employed chef, do they work with other people in this sector?
- How are they communicating with you – is it easy to get in touch with them?
Who would benefit from using a tax accountant?
If you have a complicated tax situation and you don’t feel comfortable filing your own tax return, hiring an accountant is one option. You also need to factor in the cost of doing so to make sure that you can afford the accountant’s fees.
How much will a tax accountant cost?
There is no standard price but most tax accountants will charge a one-off fee for their services, when you need them to file a tax return for you.
This can be between £150 and £250, according to unbiased.co.uk, but the price could be higher if you have an especially complicated tax return.
How much does it cost to send a tax return?
You can send your tax return on your own and there are no fees, unless you file it late.
What are the best ways of filing a return on your own?
Starting early and being as organised as possible is the best way to file a tax return on your own.
Millions of people do this and don’t pay for an accountant, and there’s lots of information on the government website to help you to file your own return.
Can you deduct financial advisor and account fees from a tax return?
You may be able to deduct any fees paid out for an accountant or adviser in your tax return. These are known as allowable business expenses.
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Rebecca Goodman is a freelance journalist who has spent the past 10 years working across personal finance publications. Regularly writing for The Guardian, The Sun, The Telegraph, and The Independent. Read more