5 online accountants for contractors and freelancers
In recent years, there has been a surge of new generation web and desktop-based accounting software which has revolutionised the way contractors and freelancers manage their finances.
Online accounting allows you to keep track of your business' invoices, tax, cash flow, profit and loss – even VAT in some instances. If you are a small business, accounting software can help you compile business information in a clear, succinct and manageable way. Here are some of the most popular options on the market at the moment:
Clear Books is one of the lowest cost mainstream cloud accounting packages, and offers good value for money for those on a tight budget. Suitable for virtually any industry, one of its selling points is its 'simple accounting made beautiful'; it takes into account brand consistency and offers an invoice theme designer, meaning you will remain in control of your branding. It also allows you to maintain all accounts, bills and invoices in different currencies.
Crunch is an all-in-one accounting software for contractors, freelancers and other small businesses. The pricing may be slightly more than others, but offers the complete service – from quarterly VAT returns to payroll for company directors; it even deals with the taxman for you – a bonus for any business owner. Depending on your business' needs, Crunch also offers a range of additional services, including personal tax, tax planning consultation and professional services. The 'personal touch' is definitely highlighted with Crunch; it provides users with handy guides, advice from a helpful team of experts, webinars, mobile apps and more.
Xero is a good option for those who are on the move and don't like being tied to one PC. Users can access the service through any web browser, and Xero packages can have unlimited users, each of which can access it concurrently (with differing permissions) from various locations. While this option doesn't involve a great deal of hand-holding for those unfamiliar with bookkeeping, it is reasonably straightforward to set up and follow. Its dashboard also provides at-a-glance, graphical summaries of vital information.
KashFlow's unique selling point is that it offers direct VAT filing. The user simply runs the VAT report, enters their HMRC online filing details, and presses submit. Submitting returns can be a laborious task for many small businesses, so the ability to do so without leaving KashFlow is a definite advantage. Information is presented clearly on the site, which even includes a form that will generate a 'business health check' score, with ideas on how you could improve it. Other excellent features include stock management, speedy invoicing and secure integration with a variety of payment card processors.
ClearSky specialises in contractor accounting, ensuring that everything is structured as compliantly and tax efficiently as possible. It is a good option for those who have recently set up their own limited company, as the in-house team of IR35 experts can provide crucial information on how to maximise your income, whilst ensuring your business is fully compliant. Every contractor is assigned a dedicated personal accountant, and there are various packages to suit budgets and requirements.
Please note: Markel do not endorse or recommend any one provider and this information is intended as a guide only.