Getting stuck on what to ask?
Your twenties are apparently the most important decade of our lives, when the responsibilities of adulthood slowly creep up on you. Taxes, shares, home loans, rent, health insurance and a bunch of other responsibilities all start to become a scary reality. It is easy to feel in the dark about your finances and how to manage them, but the benefits of being informed can mean savings that come in handy down the track.
What accountants provide that no free or low-priced software or system can provide is to be a personal advisor. If you are getting past the stage where you are able to complete your annual tax return by yourself (or simply don’t have the time), getting an accountant is the way to go. It can be a daunting task knowing where to start, but these questions are a quick guide as to what questions to ask.
Why do I need an accountant?
If you’re like me and never really understood what an accountant could do for you besides lodge a tax return, then this question is a good start. In your twenties you are likely to start a new job, or potentially have a hobby that turns into a business. Your accountant will be able to guide you through the process of starting a new job or business with a lot of experience throughout different industries. They will be able to tell you rules and regulations you may have never heard of, that can stop any trouble or doubt when you come to start the business and/or lodge your tax return. Alternatively you may be looking at investments and the best way to structure them. Deductions can be very different for different industries and knowing exactly what could be used to reduce your taxable income is vital for keeping money in your account. If your return is getting complex, the advice is invaluable and can also be a tax deduction the following year!
What does your accountant need from you?
Initially when you first get an accountant, it can be overwhelming to know what they need from you. Ensure that when you speak to your accountant, you give them as much context and information you can about you and your finances and goals and aspirations; they want to know. It will help ensure you get the best advice and make it easier to spot opportunities. This will mean no extra tax will be paid and they will know how to ensure the best taxable position. Knowing what receipts to keep or information to prepare will make life easy when tax season comes around. For example, in the creative industry, understanding that industry magazines or research from a play or show could be deductible, which differs from other industries. Tips like keeping records on your smartphone to maximise deductions at the end of the year puts money back in your pocket.
How and when should we talk?
Your accountant wants to know the best way to communicate with you. Whether that be by email, skype, a meeting, phone call or even a text message, make your life easier by letting them know! If you are scared to pick up the phone because of fear of being billed for every minute, talk to your accountant and you can negotiate a fixed fee, or an idea of the cost involved so you can actually have advice when you need it.
Can they help me with other things aside from tax returns?
A lot of accounting firms have different areas that mean all your financial questions can be answered; like a one stop finance advice shop. Asking questions on superannuation rules and limits, business and investment structures, loan advice and interest deductions, or just business tips can all come from asking your accountant.