What do you need to do?
The Smart Contractor service combines the power of Xero online bookkeeping software and the expertise of UHY Hacker Young accountants
- Xero licence
- Automated bank feeds
- Sales invoice templates
- Annual accounts and tax
- Xero payroll licence
- Companies House Annual Return and filings
- Directors personal tax return
- Unlimited support
Company formation ● Monthly bookkeeping ● VAT return submission
Payroll processing ● Pensions Automatic Enrolment ● Registered Office service
Companies House submissions ● Additional personal tax returns
Meetings (face-to-face or Skype) ● IR35 insurance
"The Smart Contractor team started by helping to set up my company and have then been with me every step of the way - from setting up Xero to explaining how the various taxes will work.
I couldn't have asked for more from a team who explain things in a straightforward way."
Tom Roberts, Premier Systems Consultancy Ltd
What are contractor accountants?
It may sound obvious, but contractor accountants are accountants that are trained and experienced in dealing with the very specific financial affairs of contractors. They are experts in everything contract accounting related.
Accountants deal with sole traders and companies from all sectors across the board and for some businesses a general accountant may well fit their requirements. However, when you’re a contractor, you need and deserve the peace of mind that the accountant dealing with your financial affairs is completely up to date and conversant with the legislation, issues and challenges faced by contractors on an ongoing basis. The right contractor accountant will be proactive in making sure your affairs are dealt with on time and in your best interests; every time.
The right contractor accountant will be proactive in making sure your affairs are dealt with on time and in your best interests; every time. And at The Smart Contractor that’s exactly what we do.
How do I find accountants who are experts in dealing with contractors?
There are any number of ways of finding contractor accountants who are experts in dealing with contractors. It may be that you have a network of contractors who you know and trust and you are prepared to investigate recommendations made by them. On the other hand, you may be contracting for the first time and find yourself a little isolated and alone on your journey, so are more likely to turn to the likes of the search engines or trade journals. Finally, if you are contracting as part of a bigger community of contractors, you may feel comfortable asking for advice from the people around you.
Finally, if you are contracting as part of a bigger community of contractors, you may feel comfortable asking for advice from the people around you. No matter which route you choose, you need to know which questions to ask and how to make your ultimate decision, and our goal is to help you do that right here, right now.
No matter which route you choose, you need to know which questions to ask and how to make your ultimate decision, and our goal is to help you do that right here, right now. The team at The Smart Contractor is here and waiting to hear from you when you are ready to discuss your unique accounting process.
Which accountant should I choose?
Choosing the right accountant for you is a highly personal decision and at the end of the day, only you can make that choice. However, there are certain pointers that should help you make the right decision.
First and foremost, you should carefully establish that the accountant you’ve chosen is fully conversant with the rules that affect contractors, as well as how and when they should be applied. In other words, they need to speak the language of contractors.
That said, it is easy for any accountant to ‘talk the talk’. So, once you have identified a selection of potential contractor accountants, you should pick up the phone and speak to them. This may seem old fashioned in today’s world of cloud and online solutions, but your relationship with your accountant is important and worth taking the time to explore in depth. You should look for someone who comes across as an expert, already has a wealth of contracting clients, is easily contactable and speaks your language – and all of these things are priority to us at The Smart Contractor.
Alternatively, if you want general expertise in finance, accounting and online bookkeeping for a business other than for contracting then our sister company The Smart Accountants may be the people to help.
How much should contractor accountants charge?
The fees charged by contractor accountants vary significantly depending on the services provided. However, you need to make sure that the fees charged by your contractor accountant are reasonable and in proportion with your actual or projected turnover and profit levels. A reasonable expectation would be anything from around £100 + VAT per month for a basic service to £150 + VAT per month for a more in-depth solution.It is on this basis that our fees at The Smart Contractor are calculated.
It is on this basis that our fees at The Smart Contractor are calculated. In short, what you get is a great service, tailored to your needs, that won’t break the bank.
Does it matter where my books and accounts are dealt with?
In this day and age, most contractors are comfortable working with an accountant they never see, so a high quality online service works well for the majority. However, if you are the type of person who considers face-to-face interaction with your accountant essential, then you should choose a High Street accountant who specialises in contractors and will be able to welcome you when you need a meeting. All of that said, High Street accountants come at a cost and it is you who pays for their office or shop front, their smiling receptionist and their car park, so it’s worth being aware of that.
When you work at a distance, you can rest assured that the contractor accountant that you’re dealing with is working in a low cost environment, with all the resources they need around them, but without the significant costs associated with a High Street presence.
At The Smart Contractor the savings we make by not having a High Street presence are passed on to you, the contractor by way of reduced fees.
Is dealing with contractors a specialist service?
Any business sector has its own idiosyncrasies and contracting is no different. Rules around contracting are complex, and penalties for not respecting those rules can be severe.
If your own contracting work isn’t accountancy, it is unlikely that there is any need for you to know, understand and be able to apply those rules. That’s where a good contractor accountant comes in.
In order to carry out your contracting responsibilities to the max, you need to know that you have the right team behind you, looking after your interests and making sure your obligations are fulfilled, leaving you to do the job that you do best. That’s what we at The Smart Contractor do.
What cloud accounting options are available?
At The Smart Contractor we work with Xero. An online accounting software solution that brands itself simply as “Beautiful accounting software”, Xero offers the full range of solutions required by any contractor.
What’s more, Xero has a whole trail of global awards behind them and some great reasons to stand out, such as:
- It looks good and is easy to use. This is important for you and for us. Doing accounts can be tedious, but an aesthetically pleasing and simple interface makes it a whole lot easier.
- It is mobile friendly. As a contractor, we know you want the freedom to do your accounting on the move, and Xero gives you the 24/7 mobile access you need to do so.
- It offers great support. When you choose The Smart Contractor you’ll never be alone, but if you do need support, the 24/7 service offered by Xero is second to none.
- It lets us exchange information. Xero provides a platform where we can discuss accounts and make notes about transactions, all neatly within the application.
- It boasts a 99.9% uptime history, so it won’t let you down.
How will I know that my data is dealt with securely?
At The Smart Contractor, data security is key. We are experts at working at a distance with our client base and take your data security extremely seriously.
Working with up to date legislation, we respect all of our responsibilities and have secure systems in place to make sure your data is never compromised. Xero also offers multiple layers of security and their security infrastructure is industry-leading. Physical security around their servers, strict auditing and authentication processes as well as multiple firewall layers and network security mean that they give us the peace of mind that our exacting security standards require.
What’s more, you can also enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that if your laptop, PC, or tablet gets lost or stolen, your data is safe and not lost. It is all of this that makes The Smart Contractor such a secure solution.
Can I pick from different service levels?
At The Smart Contractor we know that one size rarely (if ever) fits all, which is why we offer 3 different levels of service.
The packages we offer are tailored specifically to the needs of contractors at different phases of the contractor lifecycle. The first package is called Starter and, as the name suggests is designed to provide the basic accounting elements required by someone starting out on their contracting journey, packaged together at a really attractive price.
Our mid-range package is the next step up. Called Core, you get access to significantly more accounting services for only a minimal increase in investment.
Our top-end contractor accountants package is called Ultimate and includes everything offered by the other two packages but with the added benefit of an Annual Account review and Skype call. All of our packages offer unlimited support, so when you choose The Smart Contractor, you know you are never alone.
What sort of day to day support should I expect?
At The Smart Contractor we know that your priority is to run your contracting business efficiently and profitably, but we also know that you need to make time to keep your financial affairs in good shape. Many contractors are able to do this with very little support and others need more support. This is why we offer all our contractors unlimited support.
When you join The Smart Contractor you’ll be allocated a real person who speaks your language as your point of contact. Thereafter you will be able to call on that person when you need help. It really couldn’t be simpler.
Can an accountant deal with setting up a limited company?
When you work with The Smart Contractor, setting up your limited company couldn’t be easier. For only £119 + VAT we will provide you with a Same Day Company Formation. All you need to do is choose your company name and leave us to do the rest.
This also holds true if you are switching from self-employment to operating through a limited company.
What about setting up a bank account?
An important part of any successful contractor process is separating your personal financial affairs from your business finances. It is essential to have a dedicated bank account in order to fulfil the requirements of the legislation surrounding contracting.
Many contractors have their preferred bank and of course if this is the case it makes sense to call on that bank first and foremost. However, if you don’t have a preferred bank, or if for any reason you want to keep your business and your personal affairs separate, we can arrange a bank account on your behalf or give you the paperwork so you can do it yourself; the choice is yours.
What about dealing with payroll and dividend payments and paperwork?
Our Core and Ultimate packages give you the peace of mind of knowing that your payroll and dividend payment paperwork have been dealt with on time and correctly. With these packages we will work with you to determine the most efficient tax strategy for your unique situation and put the systems in place for dealing with every element of your payroll and dividends.
Will I have to do my own bookkeeping?
Once again, with our Core and Ultimate packages, there is no need for you to do your own bookkeeping. All you need to do is scan your purchase invoices and expense receipts, forward them to the email address we will give you and we will do the rest.
What sort of reports and information should be available to me?
At a very basic level, bank records and VAT reports will be available. As part of the higher level services we offer at The Smart Contractor, this can be extended to management accounts and Corporation Tax liability estimates.
Can my personal tax get dealt with as well as the company tax?
At The Smart Contractor we know that most contractors prefer to have their tax affairs dealt with under one roof. This is why all of our packages include the completion of at least 1 Director’s personal tax return. Our Core and Ultimate packages allow for up to 2 directors, which means that you can work confidently knowing that the amount of tax on dividends or other income you have due and when payments should be made is being looked after on your behalf.
I already have an accountant so how do I change?
Changing accountant is easy. Business owners do it all the time.The first time they do it they often worry that it will be difficult or will cause offense to their existing accountant.
The first time they do it they often worry that it will be difficult or will cause offense to their existing accountant. In fact, you shouldn’t experience either of these hurdles. All you need to do is notify your current accountant that you want to change, and between themselves and ourselves, we will look after the rest. All accountants are aware that clients come and go, so it’s important that you make the right decisions for your business rather than staying with an accountant that you have either outgrown, become tired of, or who is charging you too much.
Do I need to outsource my bookkeeping?
With The Smart Contractor Core and Ultimate packages, we do your bookkeeping for you.
With our Starter package, you can either do your bookkeeping yourself or you can choose to outsource it, the choice is yours. However, it is worth noting that the additional cost involved in letting us remove this burden is so minimal that most contractors neither feel the need to burn the midnight oil doing their bookkeeping themselves or to seek an alternative supplier.
If I get you to deal with my payroll does that include dealing with Pensions Automatic Enrolment?
Yes, indeed. At The Smart Contractor we use Xero, which enables your payroll and Pensions Automatic Enrolment compliance to be dealt with simply, conveniently and cost effectively under the same roof and by the same team, leaving you to get on with running your contracting business.
Will I need to install software to use your contractor services?
We use Xero accounting software for our contractor services. Xero is a global leader in accounting circles and provides both our clients and our accountants with the peace of mind that client data is being dealt with safely and securely.
Beyond this, we have chosen Xero because it is simple and pleasurable to use and we believe that their commitment to ongoing development is second to none. Set-up is simple, quick and easy – but you’ll have the team from The Smart Contractor on side to help should you have any difficulties.
Will I need to be registered for VAT?
Any contractor who goes over the VAT registration limit will need to register for VAT. However, in many instances it is in a contractor’s interest to register for VAT even if they don’t exceed that limit. This is because registration allows you to reclaim VAT on purchases and expenses.
In most cases, contractors are best to use the Flat Rate VAT Scheme, but like most other things in business this is not always the best solution. When you work with the team at The Smart Contractor we’ll advise you on the best VAT situation for your unique needs, which means that you don’t need to worry about what might be best for you.
Should I operate through an umbrella company?
Whether or not your contracting would be best to operate through an umbrella company will depend on a whole host of different criteria.
At one time, the preferred way of operating, umbrella companies are today falling out of favour because of the restrictions they place on the offsetting of expenses prior to the calculation of tax and national insurance. Once again however, like most things, there is no ‘one size fits all’ rule to determine whether or not you would be better or worse off working through an umbrella company.
It is for this reason that the team at The Smart Contractor will work with you to establish which structure will be the most efficient for your contracting arrangement.
Will I get to meet my accountant?
The Smart Contractor provides an online service. This means that you benefit from a leading team at a fraction of the cost you would expect from a solution with a High Street presence.The way we work means that you have a team of experts behind you making sure your contracting accounts are dealt with as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.
The way we work means that you have a team of experts behind you making sure your contracting accounts are dealt with as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible. Because our people work at a distance, we do not offer face-to-face meetings but our Ultimate package offers an annual accountant review and Skype call, which means that across our packages you can enjoy all peace of mind you need, delivered at a great price.