5 Accounting Hints Every Freelance Journalist Needs

The life of a freelance journalist is a bit like juggling knives on a tightrope. Having to be constantly generating pitches, carrying out interviews and research for articles and managing clashing deadlines is a minefield. And this tends to mean that the orderly maintenance and filing of accounts is far down on their list of priorities. This can lead to problems for even the most hardworking of journalists, because when the tax man comes knocking he’s really not interested in anyone else’s deadlines.

Although bookkeeping and accounts may not feel that important they really are vital. So if you’re a freelance journalist feeling swamped by receipts and expenses follow these 5 hints to make sure you don’t miss HMRC’s deadline.

Paying bills on time

Know Your Limitations

The number one piece of advice is to understand that you may not be able to manage your accounting alone. Keeping costs down is important to most freelancers, especially in the early days but don’t do it at the expense of getting things right. You’ll find that most chartered accountants in London and elsewhere can help you for much less than you expect. And if it means filing returns accurately, and on time, it pays dividends.

Keep Your Invoices In Order

In the rush to hit a deadline and then get pitching for that next big feature many freelance journalists let their invoicing slide. If you invoice late don’t expect to be paid on time. Also make sure your invoice accurately breaks down every item of work, and stipulates both your payment terms and bank details. You’d be surprised how many chartered accountants in London report that many freelancers fail to send accurate invoices, which results in delayed payments.

Understand Expenses

A high number of freelancers continue to confuse personal and business expenses. If you get these two distinct entities mixed up you’ll pay too much or too little tax, neither of which is a good thing.
For example if you work from home then a certain proportion of your utilities and rent/mortgage can be claimed back for business use, but it’s important to get this right.

photo credit: slightly everything

Keep On Top Of Debtors

Any quality firm of chartered accountants in London or around the UK will advise their clients to always spend time chasing in late payers. Keep track of all invoices and their due dates, and once the deadline has passed then it’s time to get phoning and emailing until payment arrives.
If you are too busy to do this, or feel uncomfortable hassling people, then retaining the services of a firm of chartered accountants makes sense.

Get Advice On Tax And VAT

Most freelancers don’t make big money for the first couple of years, and sadly many will never need to get advice on VAT but if you begin to see your gross income approaching the £50k p.a. mark then you need to start getting advice on income tax and VAT. At this stage you’re creeping into higher rate tax and could then be liable to pay VAT. But it doesn’t have to be that way; with proper help, that is.

Where to Seek Help?

Any good firm of chartered accountants, such as HW Fisher’s team of experienced chartered accountants in London can help you keep on top of your accounts. Contact them today for a discussion of your needs.