While you shouldn’t decide who to hire as your contractor accountant based solely on price — after all, you get what you pay for — it’s important to check that what you’ll be charged is fair.
But with fees varying widely — from just over £50 a month to £150 a month and over — how do you establish what’s reasonable, what’s suspiciously low, and what’s verging on extortionate?
Read on to find out:
- What services do contractor accountants’ fees typically include?
- Our fee comparison tables – compare over 30 accountants.
- 3 questions you should ask yourself before hiring a contractor accountant.
What do contractor accountants’ fees typically include?
There are no industry-standard ‘minimum packages’ or hard and fast rules on what contractor accountants’ fees should include.
That said, contractor accountants’ fees typically cover the following services:
- Registering your limited liability company. These days, you can set up a limited company yourself quickly, easily, and cheaply online. But if your company will have an unusual structure — for example, you’d like your spouse to be a director or shareholder — or there are other particular circumstances surrounding your business, it’s worth getting expert help and advice
- Preparing and filing your annual accounts
- Dealing with other Companies’ House formalities, including filing your annual confirmation statement. There’s a £13 fee for filing this, which your contractor accountant might charge for separately, so don’t forget to ask
- Preparing and filing your Corporation Tax return
- Handling correspondence from HMRC
- Running your monthly payroll. Most contractor accountants’ packages include payroll for one director — you — and you may need to pay extra if you have other staff
- Completing and submitting your quarterly VAT returns
- Advising you on how to run your business as tax-efficiently as possible, including salary and dividend planning
- Answering any tax or accounting-related questions you may have
Many contractor accountants also provide the following services:
- Preparing and filing your self assessment tax return
- Bookkeeping, including providing you with access to Making Tax Digital-compatible accounting software
- Acting as your company’s registered office. This means you can use your contractor accountant’s address on your invoices and other official business correspondence
- Business insurance, including professional indemnity cover.
- IR35 reviews. This is an expert opinion on whether a particular contract falls within or outside the scope of IR35 rules
- Helping you open a business bank account
- Other financial services such as mortgage and pension advice
These services may be included in the standard fee or charged separately, depending on the firm.
Needless to say, the more of these services are included in your package, the more expensive that package will be.
Our Partner Contractor Accountants
|Partner Firms||Monthly Fees||What’s included?|
|Aardvark Accounting||£76||All-inclusive tailored contractor accountancy service. Personal service, FreeAgent software, company formation, no tie-in periods.
View Further Details.
|Clever Accounts||£89.50||End-to-end IR35 solutions, your own dedicated accountant, no hidden costs, £75 cashback on business banking, company formation, registered address.
View 2 Price Plans.
|Intouch Accounting||£115||Full monthly service, free IR35 risk assessments, company formation, registered office address. No catch-up fees if you switch, company formation.
View Further Details.
|SG Accounting||£109||Full monthly service. SG will come to you for a face-to-face tax planning meeting if required. Easy switching service, IR35 advice, company formation, registered address.
View 3 Price Plans.
|Other Firms||Monthly Fees||What’s included?|
|ADVANCE||£149||‘Standard’ package. Includes company insurance and company incorporation. Unlimited phone support and online portal access.|
|BI Accountancy||£99||‘Solo’ accounting package – includes company formation, and the first month is currently free.|
|Bluebird Accountancy||£75||Free company formation, no leaving/joining fees, free personal tax return. Find out more.|
|Carrington Accountancy||£110||Dedicated accountancy support and advice for contractors. Specialists for over 20 years.|
|Churchill Knight||£120||Thousands of IT contractors helped since 1998. One month free when you sign up for a year. 2 Price Plans.|
|Clearsky Accounting||£135||‘Freedom’ accounting package. First month is free for all 3 available packages.|
|Exchequer Accountancy||£95||This is the ‘Personal’ package. £59/month ‘Online’ package is also available with less support.|
|Forbes Young||£110||Free company formation, personal tax return included, direct mobile phone number for your qualified accountant. Unlimited tax advice.|
|GoForma||£109||All-inclusive ‘Operate’ service incl. one director’s tax return. £75 ‘Starter’ package also available. 50% off for first 3 months.|
|Gorilla||£95||‘Limited Company’ Package. Same-day response guaranteed to clients. Also provides services for sole traders, landlords and small businesses.|
|ICS||£125||‘Plus’ Package. Invoices raised and chased. Online portal. Co. Formation – £40 (one-off fee).|
|InniAccounts||£107||‘Essential’ Package. Further comprehensive services a in the ‘Professional’ (£147) and ‘Business’ (£197) packages.|
|Integro Accounting||£110||5* Client reviews on Google. Dedicated qualified accountant. FreeAgent licence. All-inclusive accountancy package.|
|Maslins||£99||Helping contractors since 2009, all-inclusive FreeAgent package, free personal tax return filing, no tie-ins.|
|No Worries||£105||‘Club’ service. Includes free company formation, cloud-based software, unlimited meetings/phone support.|
|Orange Genie||£120||‘Professional Service’ includes a dedicated accountant, quarterly review, face-to-face meetings.|
|PaperRocket Accounting||£95||Award Winning | 5 star Google reviews | Qualified accountants | FreeAgent Accredited | All-inclusive packages.|
|QAccounting||£95||Complete accounting & unrivalled IR35 expertise. Cost-effective & tax-efficient accounting solution.|
|Sail Business Solutions||£83||Full limited company solution. Free initial consultation, incl. company formation. Dedicated advisor. This is the ‘directors’ package’.|
|Simple Accounting||£104||All inclusive fee. Reduced to £84 for businesses based in Yorkshire and Lancashire.|
|Spondoo||£75||Full monthly service and limited company set up; includes free personal tax return.|
|Tax Compute||£150||‘Premium Package’ is a fully comprehensive service, includes payroll, registered office service, IR35 help.|
|Taxevo||£75||Fully monthly service. Free company formation, FreeAgent, bank account set-up. 3 packages|
Yet even more contractor accountants
The contractor accountants in the two tables above are by no means the only ones on the market. Others include:
- 1st Option
- 1Stop Accountants
- 2020 Accounting
- The Accounting Crew
- Aidhan Accountancy
- Brookson One
- Chart Accountancy
- DNS Associates
- Dolan Accountancy
- Dynamo Accountants
- Forbes Young
- First Freelance
- Hillier Hopkins
- Koala Accounting
- Nixon Williams
- One Click Accountant
- RM Accountancy
- ShipShape Accounting
- SJD Accountancy
- Tailored Accountancy
- WIS Accountancy
Are you a contractor who has used one of the accountants on this list?
We’d love to hear about your experience. Email us at [firstname.lastname@example.org]
We’re also more than happy to chat with you if you work with one of these firms and would like us to add you to our comparison table.
It’s not all about price: the 3 questions you should ask yourself before hiring a contractor accountant
While knowing what fees you must pay and what they include (and don’t include) is important, it shouldn’t be the only criterion you use to decide who to hire as your contractor accountant.
Your contractor accountant will be handling your most sensitive business data — financials. So, besides fitting within your budget, they should also be somebody you like and trust.
Here are three key questions you should ask yourself to make sure you make the right choice:
1. What are their qualifications?
You don’t need a formal qualification to work as an accountant in the UK. But reputable firms require their staff to have at least the AAT foundation certificate — an entry-level qualification that gives you a good grounding in the basics.
Most accountants typically go on to obtain a more advanced AAT qualification, an ATT, ACCA, or CIMA qualification, or a university degree. Often, they also register with a recognised professional body, such as ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) or ACCA (the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants).
Most accountants proudly display their qualifications on their websites and other marketing materials. But you don’t have to take their word for it.
You can confirm that an accountant is qualified by looking them up on the ACCA directory or the ICAEW website. Alternatively, try the FCSA (Freelancers and Contractor Services Association) directory or the IPSE marketplace.
2. How do they work?
Would you rather have regular face-to-face meetings with your accountant, or do you prefer doing everything online?
And are you ok with speaking to whoever is available at that moment? Or would you like to have your own dedicated accountant who will get to know your business inside out?
Like you, contractor accountants all have their own personal preferences and ways of working. So, in order to have a fruitful and satisfying relationship (and save yourself some aggravation), you should make sure these match your own.
There’s also a practical reason to make sure you’re on the same page about how you’ll work together: it may increase your costs.
If your chosen firm prefers to work online, for instance, their fees may include unlimited communication via email but only a set number of face-to-face meetings a year. So if you’d rather discuss issues in person, you might find yourself regularly paying additional fees on top of your monthly package.
Make sure you also find out if a new firm will charge any catch up fees when you switch.
3. Are they specialists?
While a generalist accountant may be extremely knowledgeable and experienced, they won’t necessarily understand how contracting works.
As a contractor, you have a unique set of financial circumstances and challenges.
For one, contracting means having to deal with the complexities of laws like the dreaded IR35.
Second, you’ll want to get paid as tax-efficiently as possible. And this means striking the right balance between your salary and dividend income and exploiting as many tax relief opportunities as you can.
Falling foul of the tax laws can have serious consequences down the line. So, it’s worth making sure your chosen accountant is clued up about how you work, how you get paid, and the various rules you need to be mindful of, as it will give you added peace of mind.
Wrapping up: Hiring a contractor accountant? Think value not price
When you’re hiring a contractor accountant, researching the costs makes perfect sense. Nobody likes paying more for a product or service than they have to. Plus, you’ll want to make sure the services included in their fees actually meet your requirements.
At the same time, it’s worth bearing in mind that your contractor accountant is more than just a service provider. They’re also a trusted advisor who can help you move your business forward.
So, while they may seem more expensive than others, a good contractor accountant will likely pay for themselves in future tax savings, and by making sure you don’t get in hot water with HMRC.