with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
I love my accountant. You know this about me, because I say it all the time. I’m saying it again. Because I love him that much.
When I am not busy proclaiming my undying (yet completely businesslike and platonic, I assure you) love for my accountant, I’m probably saying this: Worth every penny. Because he is.
Everyone who freelances has a Starting Out period where every penny is precious. How long that time lasts varies, of course, and I went through it, too, so I totally get that there’s this start-up time when you’re not even making enough money to cover your expenses, not really, and hiring an accountant seems Completely Out Of The Question. That’s fine. What I do say, though, is that as soon as you can afford it, hire an accountant.
When can you afford it? That’s up to you. I would say that if you’ve reached the point of incorporating—or maybe even just thinking about it—it’s time. And yet, there’s always someone who will argue with me that they’re perfectly capable of handling their taxes and other paperwork themselves. My standard answer is that I’m sure they are, but I think they should hire an accountant anyway.
The exception to this rule is people who are already accountants. Though I’m guessing maybe even sometimes accountants hire other accountants.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m intelligent and capable. I run my own business. I built it myself, from the ground up, and if I do say so myself, I must be pretty good at it to have gotten where I am now. I’m certainly capable of doing my own taxes and payroll paperwork—I could learn how and do it myself, absolutely. What I don’t buy is the argument that it would “save” me money.
Time is money. People say that all the time, but I think sometimes we don’t really think about it. “Oh, I would never hire someone to do that. Too expensive. I could just do it myself.” Well, sure. But time is money and I guarantee you that if my accountant is charging me $X for what he does, I could accomplish close to the same thing in twice the time, which means I’ve lost about $2X in billable hours because I was driving myself insane trying to do stuff I’m not good at. He’ll do it better, and faster, and it offers some legal protections I wouldn’t otherwise have. Worth every penny.
But today’s reason to love my accountant is quite simple: The State of Georgia recently decided to convert all of their tax-related billing and payments to an online system. I guess they’ve had this system for a while, but it was optional; now it’s mandatory. It’s the only way to pay your state taxes, if you live here. There are many, many thing I love about living in Georgia, but this particular interface isn’t one of them, if you get my drift. Ahem. Somewhere in the third quarter of last year I got my account converted and made my payment and did my filing with them online, and it wasn’t exactly a transformative experience, but it worked.
About a month later, the state of Georgia started sending me nastygrams to let me know that my Q3 payment had been late, and to insist that I now owed them a couple hundred dollars in late fees. Even though their own online system logged my payment as being on time. Hey, I have an accountant—I forwarded the information to him, and he’s been dealing with them on my behalf, though it’s not quite resolved yet.
This week I went to see my accountant to do my Q4 payroll, and now the state’s online system says that in addition to my last payment being late, I never paid my Q4 taxes… in 2009. Except I did pay them, of course. This was before the online system, but given that the online system can’t seem to determine when I made my online payments, either, this seems to be a moot point.
Again: Accountant to the rescue. Although I have a filing cabinet at home of all my various tax paperwork, he also has copies of everything I’ve ever submitted with his assistance. He’s also dealt with this office a lot more often than I have. And left to my own devices, I’d be curled up in the corner, rocking, and whispering, “The tax man is coming to get me.” But no, my accountant told me exactly what I need to produce to prove I made the payment, and he’s not even worried about it.
Basically, a good accountant is made of magic (and reassurance). Get one.
Subscribe to blog via RSS