By Marcus Leach

15% of small businesses say that rising fees is their biggest accounting gripe, according to new research from an accountancy firm.

The survey of 269 businesses, which questioned attitudes to and experiences
of accountants, was carried out in July.

Other top gripes were jargon, or ‘accountant-speak’, and charging for
communication such as phone calls and emails — 18% combined agreed these
were pet hates.

Of the 183 businesses, surveyed by crunch.co.uk, that said they used an accountant, 18% felt they were boring, in-line with popular opinion.

When asked who they'd rather be stuck in a lift with, politicians beat
accountants (36% of the vote against 33%), however accountants did score
higher than model Katie Price, AKA Jordan, who came last.

Overall, the majority of small businesses that took part in the survey were
limited companies (61%). 38% were sole traders, with just 1% operating
through an umbrella company.

Almost two thirds (65%) of those using an accountant preferred to use an
online accountancy service, while 14% favoured old-fashioned methods.

A fifth of respondents weren't completely happy with levels of communication
from their accountant, rating them ok to poor.

9% of those surveyed had incurred penalties from HMRC as a result of late
filing by accountants at least once.

16% of small businesses questioned said their accountant hadn't given them
advice on the most tax-efficient way to pay themselves. When asked if they
understood IR35 - HMRC's controversial freelancing tax legislation - 58%
did, with the rest not understanding or recognising it at all.

"The number of small businesses experiencing a lack of advice about tax
efficiency and penalties for late filing from accountants is worrying,”
said Darren Fell, MD at Crunch.co.uk.

“While some of our survey results provide an amusing snapshot, we also wanted to gauge feeling among the UK's small business community about the levels of service and whether they are getting a good deal. The accounting industry needs to give companies complete confidence they are getting the best advice and service; ensuring they can fully concentrate on their business."

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