Using a Tax Adviser or Accountant For Your Tax Return
A tax adviser 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 is usually a lot of paperwork involved, not to mention the time it can take.
You may need to register for self-assessment and set up your account, as well as 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 legwork for you.
What does an accountant or tax adviser do?
An accountant hired for filling out your self-assessment 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 example, for the 2021/22 tax year, you would need to send details of everything you earned starting from 6 April 2021 and ending on 5 April 2022.
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 and submit your return by the 31 January deadline. Or they can file a paper tax return for you if you would 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 confirming how much tax is due, and details of how to pay this.
How to find a good tax adviser
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 at 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 worth considering. 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. You should always seek clarification on exactly what you will be charged for your individual requirements.
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 should help to make it easier to file a tax return on your own.
If you don’t want to pay for an accountant, you may want to submit your self-assessment tax return yourself. There is a lot of information on the government website to help you to file your own return.
Can you deduct accountancy fees from a tax return?
You may be able to deduct any fees paid out for an accountant 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
Kristina is a writer at NerdWallet. A recent graduate trading French for finance, she has experience creating content for student newspaper Cherwell and an edtech company. Read more