When you decide you need help preparing your taxes it can be difficult to decide where to begin. We can help you decide whom to hire by arming you with a list questions that any competent tax professional should be able to answer.
Taxpayers of all types can benefit from hiring a tax accountant. But before you spend your hard-earned cash, here are some questions to ask your prospective tax professional to help ensure you find an experienced, trustworthy tax accountant:
- What licenses or designations do you have?
- How long have you been in the tax business?
- What tax issues do you specialize in?
- Do you have the knowledge and experience to handle my tax situation?
- What are your fees?
- Do you outsource any of your work?
- Do you perform the work personally? If not, what is the review process?
- Who signs the returns?
- How long, approximately, will it take to finish my taxes?
- Will you share my tax information with any third-parties?
Choosing an Accountant for Your Small Business
An accountant should be more than a simple tax preparer. A good small business accountant does much more than record transactions and passively generate documents—they actively analyze, interpret and convert that data into actionable business advice. And, a good small business accountant understands that your personal finances are integrally linked to your business finances. They view the two holistically and offer advice on both fronts.
Like any relationship, it boils down to a compatibility of interests, experience and outlooks. Seek recommendations from your peers and ask prospective accountants the following questions:
- How are you going to help my business grow? Ask for an outline in writing.
- Are you a tax planner or a tax preparer? You will want to meet with your accountant once a year for both strategic and tax planning.
- What benchmarks will you help me set for my business, so that I can track my projects? An accountant specializing in small business finances should be able to help you set month-by-month goals to chart your progress.
- How tech savvy is the accountant? Are you going to have to print out your accounts to hard copy or can you simply transfer everything electronically? What kind of software are you going to have to buy?
- What overall services can the accountant provide besides business advice, like estate planning, gift planning, legal referrals, etc.?
- How do you calculate your fees? In a time-based fee structure, make sure to find out the hourly rate, as well as all fees for expense reimbursement.