Top tips for finding the best freelance accountant
Freelance (opens in a new tab) life is undeniably more complex than working full time on a salary, especially when it comes to taxes (opens in a new tab) business – because you have to do it all yourself.
It can be daunting when you see the amount of paperwork you’ll have to deal with if you want to file your own freelance tax return, so it’s no wonder many freelancers are turning to accountants instead.
A good accountant can save you money in addition to time and stress, but they can be hard to find, especially if you’ve never had to approach one before.
We’ve taken the hassle out of it by outlining the steps you need to take if you want to employ a top notch accountant. This is not the end of our freelance tips: go here for tips for finding your first customersand discover the most important steps to follow before becoming independent.
Do your research
If you’re a freelancer, you probably have a small budget (opens in a new tab) for accounting fees compared to a large company with several people – and this is the first factor that will influence your search for an accountant.
This means you should look for accounting firms that specialize in small businesses (opens in a new tab) and independent accounting rather than big business that will handle the tax affairs of billionaires and big corporations. You just don’t need their services and will pay more for things you won’t use.
You should start your search with some research. A simple web search for local accounts or small business accountants will return many names that could do the job.
You should narrow down the inevitably huge field by consulting professional directories that list accountants with the appropriate qualifications – sites like the IRS in the US and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in the UK are great places to start. . You should not employ an accountant who is not a dues-paying member of appropriate professional bodies.
You can also check reviews online to see if the accountants have earned a good reputation with their clients. If you know other freelancers, you should also ask them for recommendations, because if they’ve been freelancing for a long time, they’re likely to come up with quality names and might even introduce you to a contact within the company.
Also, don’t assume you need to find an accountant locally. The proliferation of online communication means you can easily hire a top notch accountant halfway across the country – perfect if you find an independent specialist you want to investigate.
Browse their website
Every good accountant will have a website (opens in a new tab) that highlights their professional qualifications, testimonials from satisfied clients and the services they offer.
You should cross-reference the qualifications and certifications they say they have by checking relevant industry websites – most accountants will probably be honest, but you never know when someone will use a logo (opens in a new tab) on their website even though they are not members of the organization in question.
If it’s a tax preparer, then that’s fine – this service is the bare minimum you’ll likely need as a freelancer, and that means your new accountant should be fully up to speed. your country’s self-employment tax system.
Keep in mind, however, that your accountant can do more than just oversee your tax return. You may want to find an accountant who can handle the bookkeeping throughout the year, and some offer coaching and advertising services as well as crowdfunding and fundraising options. It might be worth it if you expect your business to grow beyond self-employment in the future.
Once you’ve looked at the reviews, scoured the databases (opens in a new tab) and searched websites, you should have a shortlist of potential accountants who could all meet your freelance needs.
When you have this list, it’s time to get in touch. You can meet someone from the company in person or set up a video chat – it largely depends on your location – but meeting people is key to really knowing if they are the right option for you and your business. silver.
You are going to have to ask a lot of questions. You need to know how much it will cost to get the services you need – whether it’s basic tax return management or something more holistic – and you need to find out how you should pay, because some accounting firms use flat fees and others use hourly rates. rates.
It’s worth asking the accountant about their previous experience working with freelancers and in your industry – you may not want to deal with someone without real experience in the relevant areas.
When meeting with an accountant, you need to clarify how they like to communicate – you may prefer one method over another. Also ask what software they use, because if you use the same apps for invoicing and money management, the transition to a new accountant will be much easier.
An in-person or online meeting is a great opportunity to dig in the weeds. You can ask about the processes they use to resolve disputes, how they protect your information, and the process they plan to use for your tax return.
A meeting isn’t just about answering your questions and clearing up misunderstandings either – it’s about personalities. If you want to have a successful and lasting relationship with your accounting firm, it is important that you work well on a personal level. Everything will run smoother if this is the case, and your accountant will be more inclined to watch over your finances if you have a good connection.
Once you’ve gone through this process, including meeting with a few different accountants, you should have all the information you need to choose the person to help smooth your freelance finances. Money management can be one of the trickiest parts of life as a freelancer, so it’s important to get all the help you need in this department.
We featured the best accounting software for small businesses (opens in a new tab).