Both tax advisers and accountants have important roles to play in making sure that your finances are managed as efficiently – and effectively – as possible.
However, there are important differences between the two specialisms, and it’s worth considering these carefully when deciding which professional would be best placed to help you with your business.
Accountants: What Do They Do?
Broadly speaking, accountants will manage their client’s accounts and assist with tax returns, as well as advising on compliance. Whilst they may also offer some tax advice and assist with tax planning, this would tend to be more general in nature.
There are two kinds of qualified accountant – certified and chartered. The differences between the two are minimal, and largely concern the body from which the accountant gained their qualification. Once qualified, both certified (commonly known as chartered certified) and chartered accountants must commit to an annual programme of personal development, thus ensuring they are aware of all recent legislation and that their knowledge is up to date.
There is no hard and fast rule as to exactly what an accountant’s role may encompass, but common duties may include:
- Corresponding with the relevant authorities (HMRC, for instance).
- Calculating VAT liabilities.
- Filing returns (Corporation Tax, VAT, etc.).
- Preparing management accounts and year end company accounts.
- Advising on business strategy.
- Preparing profit and loss statements and cash flow forecasts.
An accountant’s role is very diverse, and their training will have covered a wide range of areas in order to support this. Though an accountant may include some tax advice and financial planning within their offering, they do not focus on this single element in the same way as a tax adviser – and as such cannot provide such specialist, detailed advice.
Tax Advisers: What Do They Do?
Tax advisers specialise in tax planning, and – as part of their professional remit – will spend considerable amounts of time ensuring their knowledge is current and that they are up to speed with the latest legislation. As such, they are uniquely placed to offer strategic advice on even the most complex areas of tax.
The most reputable tax advisers will have taken a professional qualification that enables them to practice. There are two main qualifications: Association of Technical Taxations (ATT) and Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA).
With a complex, challenging syllabus covering several subject areas (ranging from Advanced Corporation Tax to VAT on Cross-Border Transactions), it is widely held that the CTA certification is the most prestigious professional qualification in the industry. Those that successfully qualify are experts in all aspects of taxation.
Accountant or Tax Adviser: Which is Best for My Business?
The first question to ask yourself is: do I have to choose? Many businesses will find it advantageous to contract the services of both accountants and tax advisers. Fortunately, at IBISS & Co, we are able to provide both accountancy (chartered certified) and tax specialist services (our managing director, Muhammad Sufyan Moavia, is CTA certified).
For financial management and routine matters of business, there is no doubt that an accountant will be well placed to help you. However, should you require more specialist or detailed advice, you will find it necessary to employ a tax adviser. Because a qualified tax adviser has studied specific and specialist areas of tax in minute detail, they are able to apply their expertise to your business dealings (whatever your profession), finding opportunities and benefits for you that an accountant would not be aware of. They can also bring their considerable knowledge to bear when it comes to safeguarding your business against recent and future changes in legislation – on a global scale, if necessary.
With only 18,000 CTAs in the UK (in contrast to over 300,000 chartered accountants), IBISS & Co are proud to offer both accountancy and specialist tax advisory services to our clients. If you would like to speak to us to learn more about how we can help you, and which services would be most advantageous for your business, please do not hesitate to contact us today.