Now that the new tax year is underway, you may find yourself looking for a new tax agent or accountant to assist with your self-assessment tax returns.
Here are a few pointers to consider as there are a lot of tax agents out there, and what they offer in terms of service and security is by no means the same. The best way to choose an agent is a recommendation from a friend or colleague. At Bettertax probably more than 75% of our clients have come from referrals. Our niche tradesman market know us and trust us and are happy to refer us.
We’re always appreciative and offer a “refer a friend” reward.
So, what else can help you choose?
Are they experts in your profession, knowing exactly what can and can’t be claimed for?
Do they have independent reviews and testimonials?
Do they have a website, a landline number and a business address?
Does their service stop at doing your tax return or are they available to give FREE advice and HMRC assistance all year?
Are their fees absolutely transparent – are there hidden extras?
If you’re investigated, do they have dedicated staff to see you through and is this sevice free?
How available are the agents via email or telephone – or social media platforms?
Is the tax agency registered with HMRC?
Have they been given a “Low Risk” status by HMRC, meaning more safety and security for any tax refund you receive?
Does the agent complete your tax return via the internet?
Do they have direct access to HMRC personnel?
These are a few ideas to consider. If the service you are being offered sounds too good to be true, really cheap but big refund, it may be worth walking away. (Our “High Volume, High Risk Tax Agents and HMRC” article linked above explains more on this). HMRC usually does not query a return until up to a year later. Your “agent” may have disappeared by then.
To complete a self-assessment tax return, a tax agent does not require formal qualifications. Some qualifications, particularly associates, can be bought and prove no professional worth. Likewise, members of accounting bodies have often been proven in various courts to be somewhat, iffy, shall we say.
Just because there are no professional letters after someone’s name does not mean they lack the competence and expert knowledge to complete your tax return in your sphere of work – that is what is more important.
A word about internet search. Those top three or four results are paid for. They are not necessarily the best and quite often, the best do not need to pay for results. Unfortunately, HMRC take a lot of top spaces, so do a bit of scrolling to find a result you feel comfortable with and confident with.
As always, if you need any help and advice, we’re happy to assist. Good luck with your tax return process!