Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Its tax return time and you are searching for an accountant. There are so many options but make sure you don’t fall foul of an accountant operating illegally or irresponsibly. Here’s four questions you should ask an accountant you are considering:
Are you qualified?
It might seem a simple question but lots of accountants aren’t. The term ‘accountant’ doesn’t have the same legal protection as an occupation such as a solicitor. Any one can legally claim to be an accountant. Their qualification should be from one of the professional bodies: CIMA, ACCA, AAT or ICAEW.
Are you licenced?
Qualified accountants have several supervising bodies, all of these bodies require their members to be licenced in order to complete accountancy work independently. In order to obtain a licence, the qualified accountant has to meet set standards and prove experience. Along with these requirements they are monitored closely to ensure that they meet the high standards required.
Are you insured?
If your accountant makes a big mistake that costs you, you want to know that you will be reimbursed for the damages. You wouldn’t get into a taxi if the driver had no insurance so don’t trust your accounts with an uninsured accountant.
Are you registered with the ICO, HMRC and supervised under Money Laundering Regulations?
The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) upholds information rights and data privacy for individuals, HMRC requires all accountants to register with them as tax agents and accountants are one of the sectors required to comply with Money Laundering Regulations. Your accountant needs to be legally registered with all three of these and if they aren’t, they are operating illegally.
Most of these requirements are interlinked, you can’t be licenced without insurance and qualifications etc. Make sure you see evidence from your new accountant in response to these questions. The easiest way to verify your accountant is via their licence number, you can check their credentials with most supervising bodies online in minutes. Any legitimate accountant will be more than happy to provide this information freely, if they don’t or make excuses, avoid them at all costs.
All advice and services included in our blogs can be offered by our staff at MJ Baker Accountancy. Please fill in our contact form if you would like tailored advice for your business.
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