What Exactly Does an Accountant Do?

“Oh, I’ll just do the numbers myself.”

How many times do you think business owners have muttered that to themselves only to find, six months down the line, it’s become one of the most annoying tasks on their to-do list? And annoying tasks don’t get done very often or very thoroughly.

You can’t run a successful, profitable business without a decent set of accounts, and in today’s ridiculously hectic world, that means a good accountant is a must.

But what do accountants do? It’s a fair question to ask, and one we’re more than happy to answer!

The main tasks

Consider these the nuts and bolts of your accountant’s working day, and the stuff your business really can’t survive without.

Setup of your business

If you’re forming a limited company, LLP or some other kind of business venture, an accountant will ensure you’re set up correctly from the start.

That means the formation of the business, registration for taxes and the numerous other small but important bits of red tape you’d otherwise have to navigate alone.

Changing this stuff later on isn’t much fun, which is why it’s important to know what you’re doing from the off.


People need to be paid, right? But payroll is more complicated than you might think.

There are numerous rules and regulations for payroll depending on each person’s circumstances, and few business owners have the time to ensure this vital part of their operation is correct. Most of our payroll clients just want it to happen smoothly without their input.

VAT returns

If you’re operating above the VAT threshold (or have voluntarily registered for VAT), the dreaded VAT return is something that will probably forever be on your mind.

That is, unless you hand the task over to an accountant, who will ensure you’re on the most appropriate scheme and that returns are filed on time and in the best possible shape.

The annual stuff

There are three big things you’ll need each year from an accountant:

1. Year-end accounts

The big one. How has your business performed over the last twelve months?

The year-end accounts process extends far beyond running a P&L report from your accounting system, and there are numerous opportunities to save money on your tax bill and ensure your profit is correctly calculated.

2. Corporation tax returns

HMRC are pretty reasonable when it comes to corporation tax returns; you get nine months from the normal due day to pay it.

That date can easily be missed, though, and the calculation of what you owe equally messed up if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A good accountant will ensure you pay the right amount of corporation tax and on time to the right place, to avoid any penalties or scary letters coming through the post.

3. Self-assessment tax returns

Tax is one of life’s certainties, and none of us can escape the fact we need to pay our own tax bill.

Just like corporation tax, self-assessment tax is a tricky calculation, and one you really do need professional help with if you want to avoid over (or under) paying.

Ongoing advice

The best accountants are the most vocal and on hand whenever you need them.

An accountant who sets up your company and then pops up every twelve months to remind you about the end of year accounts isn’t doing much of a job for you.

Today’s financial landscape is complex and ever-changing, which is why you’ll need ongoing advice on tax, PAYE, budget changes and anything else the government decides to throw at us.

Equally, if you need help with your accounts software, your accountant should be on hand to make sure you’re getting the most from it.

So what are the benefits?

We’ve hopefully demonstrated exactly why you need an accountant, but here’s a quick-fire list of the benefits you’ll experience from enlisting the services of a good accountant:

  • saves you time, enabling you to concentrate on the business;
  • reduces your tax bill as much as possible – legally and legitimately;
  • offers reassurance that someone qualified and experienced is dealing with HMRC; and
  • avoids penalties and the stress of missed HMRC deadlines.

Feel like you’re missing out on a decent accountancy service? Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out how we can help your business.

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