Top 10 finance tips for Contractors and Freelancers
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Freelancing and contracting are not for the faint-hearted. It can feel like a rollercoaster, characterised by unpredictable job cycles, erratic income and a lack of a contingency plan. The situation can be quite stressful, especially when you’re just starting out. But if you’re organised, freelancing/contracting can be an immensely rewarding way to earn a living, not only do you have the potential to earn more but you also have the freedom to work on your own terms. The normal route to contracting starts with speaking to a reliable contracting agency who can help you find work, you would also need the best contractor accountants, someone who specialises in contractor accounting, understands IR-35 and can guide you in tax-efficient extractions.
With proper personal finance, freelancers can achieve a work-life balance that will be the envy of many. Here we will look at 10 finance tips for contractors and freelancers that will give you financial security.
- Insulate your income
If you’ve tried freelancing, you will understand how it feels when there is no work. Also, the absence of consistent pay often stresses most people out, especially when they are ill. So what’s the solution? Fortunately, insurers have come up with products that provide those in self-employment with insurance protection whenever they fall sick, alternatively, speak to a competent contractor accountant about how you can use the excess cash in your business as an investment or a cushion for times when there is insufficient income being generated.
- Spread your income within the family
Any family member over the age of 16 has a personal tax allowance of up to £12,500 for the 2019/20 tax year. Why not capitalise on this by employing family members and claiming back the allowance? It is an allowable expense, therefore it’s a significant saving. It is not a straightforward process the settlements legislation S624 ITTOIA 2005 can create complications when paying relatives through a PSC for the purpose of utilising their tax bands, try using expert contractor accountants to help you optimise on any loopholes of saving money without the complications of tax investigations.
- Open an emergency savings account
If you don’t have one already, open an account to cater for any unforeseen expenses. Ideally, the account should have a minimum of one month’s income to prevent you from raiding your savings for minor issues such as emergency trips, car repairs, etc. If you believe that your company is at high risk of coming within IR-35, try using a Liability Cover insurance, which will cover you for investigation and tax costs should an investigation ever occur. There are a few contractor accountants who have built industry connections and will be able to connect you with the correct providers for your mortgage, protection and saving needs.
- Get a Relevant Life cover policy
If you’re the owner of a limited company, get a Relevant Life cover policy through your business. This life cover holds your policy in trust, and your beneficiaries will receive the payouts, instead of your company, thereby avoiding inheritance tax. Also, with Relevant Life cover, you will significantly save on income tax.
- Get a pension plan
Your Contractor Accountant should have advised you to obtain a pension plan that will reduce your corporation tax bill by directly transferring funds from your company account to a pension scheme. In case your company has any retained profits, carry forward the unutilised pension allowance, thereby using the pension to pay yourself in a tax efficient manner.
- Have an account for tax purposes
Apart from the high of being your own boss, as a freelancer, you are responsible for your taxes. Often, distinguishing between your income and that owed to the taxman may prove tricky. So, whenever you are paid, have an operating worksheet for your totals and plan accordingly. If you have a limited company, open a savings account for accumulating your taxes until the tax payments are due. To be safe, freelancers should consider hiring contractor accountants to enable them to forecast their taxes in advance and pay them quarterly to avoid fines.
- Track your expenses and budget
Any contractor needs a budget. However, you can only formulate one if you track your expenses. Spend three or so months noting down your fixed expenses and variable expenses. See what you can cut and come up with a budget to guide you. Accountants these days use state of the art tools and software such as Quickbooks or Xero, these tools can help you simplify the budgeting process and keep track of actuals once the budget is set up. If you want to be even more specific find a good contractor accountant in London who is familiar with the industry but make sure they are certified with a good cloud accounting software.
- Get business insurance
As a freelancer or contractor, recognise first and foremost that YOU are the business. So, begin by getting private medical insurance for you and your family. With your family secured, ensure that you also have relevant insurance for your business to cover for any uncertainties. Additionally, an insurance policy has the advantage of validating your IR35 standing, too.
- Save enough to work on profitable contracts
A contractor should not have to pick a job for the sake of paying bills. With six months’ worth of savings, a contractor can stay calm and wait for work that is more lucrative. If you have appointed a contractor accountant, ask them to help you with a personal budget which you can develop keeping in mind your financial goals, so that when you select the next contract it does more than just pay bills.
- Get tax expertise
Hiring a competent contractor accountant may seem expensive, but it can be very helpful. The accountant will help you minimise your tax liability by using efficient tax planning.
If you’re looking for contractor accountants based in London to help you with your accounting and tax needs, feel free to contact us. We are ready to help you!
Clear House Accountants are specialist Contractor Accountants who have experience working with a large number of contractors from a variety of industries. We have created a large number of smart tax and accounting solutions for all our clients helping them save money with peace of mind.
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