As a small business owner, managing your cash flow and ensuring that you’re able to pay your bills is a hugely important responsibility. But at the end of each financial year, you also need to think about your tax liability for those past 12 months. And this can prove a colossal headache. Even businesses that are meticulous in their bookkeeping can struggle when it comes to fairly and accurately reporting to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). You can handle all of your own tax compliance. But in our experience, it’s always best to defer to the expertise of an accountant.
An accountant can help to ensure that your small business remains tax-compliant, while also ensuring that you don’t overspend on your tax and compromise your future cash flow. A good accountant will almost certainly save you more than they cost. But with so many of these skilled professionals to choose from, how do you know which is the best for your business?
Fortunately, we live in the digital age, which means businesses can carefully vet and research prospective accountants online before entrusting their business’ finances to a stranger. Here’s what to look for.
They are qualified and registered
It goes without saying that you should only entrust your business finances to a fully qualified accountant who is registered with all the appropriate regulatory bodies. Check if an accountant is registered at the online tax and BAS agent register if you want them to handle your business’ tax returns. If you need help with something more complicated like a super fund that will look after your employees when they reach retirement age, you’ll need an accountant with an Australian Financial Services Licence.
They have experience in, and understanding of, your industry
An accountant doesn’t necessarily need to have a working knowledge of the unique tax compliance demands of your industry. But it’s definitely advantageous if they do. An accountant who has experience in, and understanding of, your industry can advise on what expenses can and cannot be written off. They can help you to accurately forecast profit and loss in light of industry changes. They are better equipped to understand the practical challenges that your business face, and help to make your money work harder for you.
They communicate clearly
As a small business owner, you’re a savvy autodidact with a diverse array of skills. But even the most intuitive and multi-talented of us can be bamboozled by industry jargon. And the financial sphere has more than its fair share of impenetrable esoteric lingo.
The right accountant will take the time to explain things to you clearly and concisely in plain English. They’ll keep you in the loop, and on the rare occasions where they’re not able to deal with you directly, they’ll have a network of trusted contacts with whom you can deal in their absence.
Of course, your accountant can’t be expected to work for free. And their pricing is an important factor in choosing the right accountant. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should opt for the cheapest accountant that you can find. Instead, you should opt for an accountant who can demonstrate that they will provide exceptional value for their fee.
Furthermore, their pricing should be transparent with no hidden fees or dubiously worded charges. This is crucial in ensuring that you can factor the expense that they represent into your future profit and loss projections.
We can help
If you’re interested in finding out more about choosing an accountant, your tax liability, or any other aspect of your business finances then get in touch with our financial experts. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.