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What's included when you hire an accountant
The inclusions and process you’ll go through with your new accountant will depend on your situation and the type of accounting services you need.
Individual tax returns
Everybody should have a reliable tax accountant to them submit their personal tax each year. It’s usually best to contact your tax agent early on in the year - ideally 2-3 months before EOFY. Not just to make sure they can fit you in, but also to get pre-tax planning advice on what you might be able to buy and write off before the year is up.
Once you find an accountant or a suitable tax agent near you to do your tax return, book them in! This time of year things get really busy, so don’t leave it too late. Bring to your appointment your identification, a copy of last year’s notice of assessment, bank statements, real estate info, claimable expense receipts, payment summaries, and anything else that might be relevant. Usually, your local accountant will need around 1-2 hours to prepare your tax return and may do it while you’re there during the appointment, or finish it off (with your approval) later on.
Budgeting and financial planning
Your accountant can help you create a budget or in some cases, even plan your finances. You can set up an appointment to talk about your finances, goals, income, and expenses. Then your local accountant can use their tools (and years of experience) to advise you on the best steps forward. The benefit of engaging an accountant for budgeting is that they can look at your finances through the lens of what you can write off, the tax you owe, and what you might get back.
Business setup accounting
One of the first things you should do if you’re setting up a business is to engage an accountant or accounting firm that's experienced in business or corporation tax. They’ll advise you on the best business structures based on the type of business and projected income level from financial modelling. And they’ll help you feel more confident you’ve ticked the right boxes as you fill out any paperwork. Plus, your local accountant can get you set up with MYOB, Xero, or another type of accounting software.
Compliance and audits
Staying compliant is essential for businesses to avoid fines and minimise risk. But if you’re not familiar with the rules of business or corporation tax, it's easy to miss a detail or take the wrong step. Your accountant can help you with the financial reports you need or help you get your ducks in a row for an audit. During your appointment, you’ll answer a lot of different questions about the type of work you do, how you record your data, and more. Your accountant will go through a checklist to make sure you’ve covered off everything you need to operate in compliance with local and federal regulations.
If you’re registered for, you’ll need to submit regular business activity statements (BAS). For most businesses, it makes sense to engage a registered BAS accountant to manage and submit your BAS. BAS agents get extra time, so if you’re in a rush to submit your BAS, you can breathe a sigh of relief when you engage a professional to take care of it. To do your BAS, your accountant will need access to your bookkeeping and accounting software to track the GST you’ve paid and collected over a 3-month period. They’ll calculate the amount you owe then submit this to the HM Revenue & Customs.
Many accountants also offer bookkeeping services or can help with your regular payroll. If you’re a small business or contractor, hiring a bookkeeper makes sense because it frees you up to serve more customers or just get back some family time. Hiring a bookkeeper means you can finally hand your shoebox of receipts or hundreds of receipt emails over someone who will know what to do with it.
Because the inclusions vary so much between different accounting services, it’s always a good idea to check with your accountant before you start working together. Get the inclusions in writing, and if you need something specific to your situation, you can always let them know when you post your task here on Airtasker.