Do I need an Accountant?
Of course my over-riding answer will be if you are reading this, the chances are yes!
When you might not need one
In reality - if you are a small, sole trader with one or two invoices a month, short term contracts and simple regular monthly expense mostly on DD through a business bank account, you may feel you can do your accounts yourself. If you are organised and prepared to read up on the rules regarding business expenses, have no significant expenditure on assets such as cars/plant and machinery etc then you may be able to manage them.
However I still get people who find the whole process complicated, stressful and time consuming, and are more than happy to let me deal with HMRC on their behalf, and use my expertise to ensure they are claiming everything they are entitled, to without falling foul of the ever changing tax legislation.
If you run a limited company
Absolutely - I suggest talking to an accountant before you even set it up. It may be that this is not the best structure to use, or we can advise on the best shareholding for your circumstances from the outset.
A lot of people suggest to me that they can't afford an accountant from the start, and I appreciate it may seem like an expense that can wait.... however if you are extracting money from your company by salary or dividends there are certain requirements that need to be completed at the time of payment - not doing them can incur fines and unnecessary tax, so really it's a false saving. If you are just extracting money....... then you definitely need to talk to an accountant......
VAT and taking on employees can get very complicated quickly and again needs advice and action from the outset. You need specialist software that can submit reports direct to HMRC on a regular and automated basis.