Advice: How to choose an accountant
Thread poster: Charlotte Monnier

Charlotte Monnier  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:43
English to French
+ ...
Oct 10, 2007

Hi all,

I would like to hire an accountant this year, mainly for doing my tax return, but as many of my colleagues do not hire one, I do not benefit from word of mouth advice.

I generally wanted to know how it works when you go to your accountant:

- Do accountants all charge for running your accountacy for the whole year or can they charge you charge to do the tax return only?
- What type of documents do ou usually have to bring? (e.g.: do I have to bring statements, receipts, bills, a file stating my income and expenditures)? To sum up, does one bring individual documents like statements, bills, etc. or rather, say, Excel files summing up all the information?

For those of you who live in my area (Maidenhead, Berkshire), I would appreciate if you could give me advice on a good accountant. You can send me your reply in private if you wish.

Thanks a lot for your help!

Charlotte


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Added value Oct 10, 2007

Hi Charlotte, I obviously can’t give you advice about how things are done in Britain or in your area, but I’d like to mention one thing I’ve learned on my own in the last few years: look for an accountant who gives ADDED VALUE.

What do I mean? Well, I had 2 or 3 accountants over the years who did the minimum they could to keep up the books, prepare my taxes, etc. They simply punched some numbers into a calculator, filled out the forms and charged me a ton. They never offered me any advice or extra information that might have been helpful to me or my work.

A year or two ago I switched to a new accountant and the difference was like night and day. He and his secretaries were extremely thorough and after finishing their work, I was offered advice (at the same price) as to how to improve my financial situation, tax returns, etc.

Don’t settle for one that just checks the boxes and fills in the numbers. Look for one that goes the extra mile. It took me awhile to learn the lesson and I sure wouldn’t settle for anything less now.

Good luck!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:43
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some answers Oct 10, 2007

Charlotte Monnier wrote:
- Do accountants all charge for running your accountacy for the whole year or can they charge you charge to do the tax return only?


Filling in your tax forms is just one service they do. It is generally up to you to keep your records in order.

For tax purposes, make two appointments. The first appointment is the one in which they look at your previous tax forms and tell you what sorts of things you can save tax on. Then go home and get all the relevant receipts and stuff. Then go for the second appointment, in which the consultant basically fills in the tax form using the receipts and stuff you brought him. This two-prong approach will save you money because the tax consultant doesn't spend any time sorting your papers -- you do that in your own time.

In my country, tax consultants may only charge an hourly rate -- it is illegal for them to take a percentage from the amount of money they save you on your tax returns... but perhaps it is different in your country.


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Sabine Trautewein  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:43
Member (2003)
English to German
John's absolutely right... Oct 10, 2007

Hi Charlotte,

John's absolutely right about the "Added Value" aspect. My accountant doesn't only prepare my taxes, he explains everything. Whenever I've got a question, I can call him (well, not in the middle of the night, but during normal business hours and he won't charge me for that unless it's a really loooooong call.

Another important aspect is, IMO, that you have trust in your accountant - you must be sure that (s)he is doing the best and right thing for you and is not only interested in her/his fee.

I was fortunate enough to get the recommendation for this accountant from one of my husband's friends who knew this guy personally, maybe you could ask friends or acquaintances, not only colleagues, they might be able to recommend you an accountant.


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Charlotte Monnier  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:43
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
THANKS Oct 11, 2007

Hi all,

Great! I thank you all for your explanations and comments, they are really helpful.

Charlotte


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Advice: How to choose an accountant

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