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Good advice, especially the bit about crunch. First time I contracted I let my accountant talk me into using their horrible spreadsheet. I couldn't make my self use it it was that bad and my accounts were a mess. Now my accountant (nimble jack) bundles freeagent (which when I looked into it was better than crunch and has an API) and keeping on top of things is much easier.

One additional thing: If you're married make sure your spouse is a director of the company as well (especially if they're not working). You can be hugely tax efficient in this manner and can extract nearly £80k per year from the company with no personal tax to pay (there will still be corporation tax to pay on profits).

Personally I prefer the 'human' accountant. I've been using an experienced accountant for many years, and continued on when I created the LTD. He also does my personal taxes, the PAYE etc. For the company, we 'share' a google spreadsheet that is very simple, I add my invoicing, expenses, and he uses that to do the VAT bits and PAYE. Very low overhead, and he's very cheap too -- he's also 1 mile away, so I go and sit down with him and chat about options etc if I feel like it.

There might be some pretty good small accountancy firms around that will cost a LOT less than these fancy online firms, so do check around locally, or asks for recommendations -- I think it's worth it.

What's cheap for an accountant? I'm paying about £800 per year for mine. I didn't really shop around as I had to set things up on short notice.

That'd be cheap for London. It's normal to pay 1k+ a year

Other recommendations of accountants with decent online systems would be greatly appreciated. My current ones (Nixon Williams) seem fairly good as accountants, but the spreadsheet based expenses (and having to use email to take dividends, check profit/loss, etc) are getting quite annoying, and they want to charge extra to use their registered address rather than my own, which leaves a bit of a bad taste when Crunch include this.

I have heard good things about Crunch's system but some mixed things about the quality of their advice and how pro-active they are - any other feedback on them or others?

The point about the registered address and fraud is a real one, someone I worked with had this happen to them - will Crunch act as the service address as well as the registered address?

I've used Crunch since I began contracting towards the end of 2009. So I was one of their early customers. I would say their software keeps getting better but their service as a whole has worsened as they've got bigger. That's not to say their service is bad, it's just not as good as it was when they had less than 100 customers. I've had a couple of instances in the past (around two years ago) where I've had to correct my account manager when he's told me something I've known to be wrong.

Having said that, just about everything is automated or part of their software now and I haven't had to speak to anyone there since last summer. Maybe their service hasn't gotten any worse, it's just become less personal.

I've been using NW for about three years now and am deeply ambivalent about them for similar reasons...

I'm unsure if you'll see this reply with the topic being quite old, but I found out today (via a Youtube ad, no less - well targeted, sort of!) that Nixon Williams now have an online portal, called Vantage: http://www.nixonwilliams.com/vantage - judging via the Wayback Machine, it has only been around since February this year.

If you speak to your account controller, they'll be able to set you up a dummy account to see if you like it - my understanding is that this would replace the monthly submissions of expenses and invoices, and give you a better real time view of your profit/loss, but you should still get the same level of service and attention paid to your account and it costs no extra. I'm still waiting for confirmation of all that (my worry being that I could make a mistake and it wouldn't get spotted, whereas it would with a monthly submission to a human) and for my account to be set up, so I can't comment any more on it, but it's definitely worth a look!

I use an accountant that is "Freeagent Compatible". I'd suggest having a look at the list on the Freeagent website (http://www.freeagent.com/).

Yep, having set consulting companies a couple of times now having something like Freeagent is invaluable. Getting a good accountant is important as well, after switching once I now use 3wisebears who I'd recommend.

If you split up, your spouse will take half the money in your business account with them if it's 50-50...

They would happen anyway as part of any divorce settlement and may get more if you have children.

Tax planning really should not be a reason to go contracting. You can get more money by moving to another permanent job elsewhere.

Valid reasons to me for going contracting would be to remain technical, to continue learning new technologies, to avoid permie politics and appraisals (which is why I contract)..

You probably wont be able to find a permanent job that pays as well as contract job, at the same skill levels.

If we ever split up, I'd give her at least half of my money to look after my children :-)

They don't need to be a director just a shareholder.

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