I had some freelance work last tax year and I'm wondering if I should just do the tax return myself or get an accountant. It should be fairly straight forward I have some expenses and worked from home, I need to work out what I can claim for in terms of heating, phone, broadband etc but other than that I'm not sure what an accountant will do. Would they save me money?
It depends how organised you are and how good you are with paperwork. I get intimidated by paperwork so my accountant was a blessing as they just told me where to sign (obviously I read everything properly ) The peace of mind for me knowing that everything was properly dealt with was worth the money
You can claim £2 per week flat rate for 'use of home as office'. That covers everything but I don't know if it includes if you made more phone calls than that amount.
You can also claim 45 pence per mile for every business mile you do - you need to keep records of this.
And you can claim for any equipment necessary for doing your work - eg safety boots. You wouldn't be able to claim for office equipment if it is also a home laptop though. That would be covered in the £2 per week above.
In the past HMRC have done free courses on 'introduction to self employment' that probably covers a lot of this stuff, but I don't know if they still do.
Completing a tax return is fairly simple and once you have done it once, you learn what sort of information they ask for and that can help you set up a spreadsheet to add up your income and expenses in a helpful format.
Do you have an employed job as well? Or if not, did your work earn more than the tax allowance of about £10k per year?
Are you paying the SE NI contributions, although I think these have changed recently - it used to be that you had to pay a couple of quid a week in NI contributions but if you earnt less than about £5k per year from SE only, you could get an exemption certificate to not pay (or you could pay them voluntary as there are pension benefits) but the rest of your NI record would determine whether this is necessary.
I would say if you are earning less than whatever the 40% tax limit is overall and your work is 'labour only' ie you aren't spending money on stock/equipment, it probably isn't worth paying an accountant, but if your affairs are fairly simple, it might not cost a huge amount anyway (£100-200 per year?).
Having used an accountant for years, I've done my own the last 2 times. My affairs are simple and I keep a spread sheet that I update each month so all the figures are at hand. My work is pretty much labour only, and an accountant was costing around £300, which is daft as this year my tax bill is nil as earned less than my threshold.
I wouldn't pay for an accountant unless you are a big business. Keep records, and the online self-assessment really does work well so it isn't hard. Do it in the next month or two and it all ticks through quickly. Do NOT leave it until January!
Thanks everyone, I did earn over the £10k threshold so I will need to do a tax return. I've done them before when I was a Landlord, so I'm familiar with the process. My work only lasted a few months all within one tax year and is pretty much labour only apart from office type costs and a bit of travel. I'm confident I can organise it all I just don't want to miss out on anything by not using an accountant, I'd hate to find I could have paid less tax if I had.