As part of our series of articles looking at life as a contractor, we interviewed Robert Muir who shared his experience of finding work, running a limited company and keeping his finances in check.
Robert lives near Edinburgh with his wife and son.
I had been in employment for years and fancied doing something different, I was fed up with the stress and office politics. A friend mentioned contracting so I thought I would give it a go. I contacted a recruitment agency and soon found a role supporting the admin function in a financial services company.
How did you go about setting up your limited company?
My recruitment company put me in touch with JSA who did some calculations to work out what my pay and taxes would be if I set up a limited company. It was all very straight-forward and clear. I knew there would be some paperwork involved in working that way but it didn’t put me off, I was quite happy with record-keeping and used JSA’s system (myJSA) for invoicing and keeping track of expenses etc.
How did you find life as a contractor?
I enjoyed it but it was only a short contract. After 6 months I was offered a full-time job somewhere else which I took up, not because I didn’t like contracting but because the role and the company seemed ideal for me.
Were there any disadvantages?
The only thing I had a problem with was submitting my self-assessment tax return. It looked easy and I had all my records straight so I thought it would be simple. However, I didn’t get around to it when I should have done, so missed the deadline and got a letter with a fine. I then made a pig’s ear of the form as my tax return straddled two financial years, so ended up with a letter from HMRC demanding that I pay them £470. I got on the phone to JSA and they sorted it out for me – instead of paying HMRC £470, HMRC paid me £1,200 as it turned out I was actually due a rebate. I was very pleased with that!
Have you kept your limited company?
No, I don’t plan to go back to contracting though I might look at reduced hours in the future. JSA have helped me close the company and wind everything down. They made that very simple too.
What advice would you give to other contractors?
It’s not difficult running a limited company but I was concerned about paying the right amount of tax and things like that. From that point of view I would say the most important thing is to work with someone like JSA who you trust to give you good advice, it will save you a lot of time and hassle and give you peace of mind.