Published Date: June 30, 2020 . Last Updated October 11, 2022
You’re not the only one who shudders at the notion of filing your own taxes and wonders where to find a reliable certified public accountant (CPA) or tax expert. Approximately 54% of the more than 261 million tax returns that were e-filed through November 2021 (for the 2020 tax year) were prepared by a professional, according to the IRS.
The powers of innovation and technological advancement keep on changing business. CPAs and finance experts, as the scorekeepers of business, are searching for approaches to use this flood of progress to improve methods, drive innovation, and gather further and increasingly significant bits of knowledge for their clients and partners. This is a common objective shared by the interior audit and control, which cooperates with the executives to guarantee the precision of financial proclamations, give key advice, and help distinguish dangers and vulnerabilities.
Like finance and bookkeeping, internal audit has advanced throughout the years, extending past financial records to take more advisory roles, giving bits of knowledge into everything from cybersecurity to administrative consistence and HR. The bookkeeping vocation is driven by numerous individuals of similar powers like innovation, risk, and rising partner desires.
Dealing with your small business finances can be troublesome in the time that you aren’t acquainted with taxes, credits, and recording transactions. A small business accountant can give you the financial aptitude and direction you have to maintain your business successfully.
Is it Mandatory to Recruit a CPA?
Although recruiting a CPA is not mandatory, it tends to be a major assistance to have one with regard to auditing financial records and filing taxes. The advice that an accomplished business CPA brings to the table of your organization may very well be the difference between success and failure, and their expertise can help monitor your choices as your business grows.
The initial phase in picking a CPA is to figure out what you expect to be accomplished for you. A few CPAs are eager to do accounting, while others center around more extensive business undertakings. In the case that you are searching for a bookkeeper to deal with the day-by-day or week-by-week accounting obligations just as an accountant, you’ll need to search for the best business accountant that offers the two types of assistance.
Hiring a CPA or tax expert can relieve you of the tiresome and frequently stressful work of understanding IRS regulations and requirements. The improper hire, though, can end up being more detrimental than beneficial.
Why you should be vigilant when selecting a CPA
The IRS maintains a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax frauds every year. Although there are numerous potential scams on the list, many of them are carried out by dishonest tax preparers, who may promise inflated refunds, make bogus claims for deductions and credits, or encourage clients to evade paying taxes.
Sadly, almost anyone can work as a paid tax preparer. The majority of states have few or no requirements for training, certification, or even competency assessments.
So how can you locate a trustworthy individual? Find a certified public accountant (CPA) or tax accountant in your area by following our three-step guide.
Make a list of potential CPAs and tax accountants in your area
Asking for a referral is an excellent way to discover a CPA or accountant, just like with most service providers. Make a list of three or four potential accountants instead of just choosing the first name you are given. This is how:
Request recommendations from those you know
Accountants and CPAs frequently concentrate on specific markets or specialties, such as serving clients who run small businesses, are extremely wealthy, or belong to specialized professions. For instance, if you’re a doctor, ask other doctors who they recommend. Family, friends, associates, and coworkers are great sources of referrals.
Scan in the IRS directory
A preparer tax identification number is the one requirement that every paid tax preparer needs to meet (PTIN). A PTIN is not indicative of a person’s talent or expertise on its own because anyone may apply for one online without paying anything.
However, the IRS keeps a list of PTIN owners who have current credentials recognized by the IRS, including CPAs, enrolled agents (EAs), and lawyers. Additionally, those who have successfully completed the organization’s Annual Filing Season Program, a series of optional continuing education courses covering federal tax law and ethics, are listed in the database. To locate a certified tax professional or CPA nearby, search the directory by zip code.
Consult regional or international organizations
Many state boards of accountancy and state CPA organizations keep member directories online or can give you a list of local tax experts upon request. You might need to conduct your own research or give the CPAs on your list a call to ascertain whether they offer the specific tax services you require as not all CPAs prepare taxes.
EAs are tax professionals with federal licensing who are allowed to represent, advise, and prepare tax returns for both individuals and businesses. A directory of EAs is kept up by the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). By location, specialty, language, experience, and other criteria, you can search the directory.
Consider free tools for filing taxes
You might wish to consider having your tax return done through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs if you make less than $56,000 a year or are 60 years of age or older.
The IRS funds these free services, which are delivered by volunteers who have received training in basic tax preparation. Find a nearby provider using the VITA/TCE locating tool if you are eligible.
The majority of VITA and TCE websites won’t show up in search results until roughly three weeks before they’re supposed to go live, according to the IRS. Searching for a location outside of mid-January through April could make it challenging to find one nearby.
Check out the IRS’s list of items to bring to your tax appointment once you’ve located a location.
Narrow your choices
It’s time to choose the ideal tax preparer from your list of probable local candidates. What you should do is:
Cross-check their credentials
The credentials of the tax preparer are probably valid if you obtained their name from the IRS, your state board of accountancy, a state CPA organization, or the NAEA. However, if you were given the name through a recommendation, it would be wise to confirm that the individual in question indeed possesses the credentials they are claiming to.
A database of data regarding licensed CPAs and public accounting companies, CPA Verify is accessible online in 47 states (including Washington, DC), Puerto Rico, and Guam. To check a CPA’s credentials, visit the website of your state’s board of accountancy or the CPA Verify database. At EATax.org, you can confirm the status of an EA.
Review sites online
Examine the content posted on the website and social media profiles of your prospective CPA or tax preparer. Read reviews on Facebook, Thervo, Google, Yelp, and Angie’s List online. Search for their name on Google to see what comes up, and make sure nothing is buried by scrolling through the first few pages of results.
Anyone who deals with the public almost certainly has a bad online review from a displeased customer. However, if your investigation turns up warning signs like a pattern of client complaints, inappropriate social media posts, or arrest history, move on to your next applicant.
Once you’ve whittled down your list to the most potential candidates, get in touch with them and request a meeting as soon as feasible. But take note: It can be difficult to locate someone who has time to sit down with you if you wait to schedule an appointment until the 2022 tax season is well underway. If at all feasible, schedule a consultation in January or February even if you don’t have all of your tax paperwork ready.
Interview a potential CPA
Bring a copy of your most recent tax return with you when you consult with a possible accountant. One of the greatest methods for the tax expert to assess your circumstances and offer you an estimate of how much they would charge is to review your most recent return.
Any important life changes you’ve had in the last year, such as getting married (or divorced), investing in rental property, or starting a business, should be disclosed to your prospective accountant.
Following are some crucial inquiries to make during your meeting:
- What are your areas of expertise? If you have particular requirements, such as if you run a small business, own rental property, or have overseas investments, you should engage a professional who focuses on serving people with similar needs.
- How are your services billed? At this initial appointment, the accountant might not be able to give you an exact amount, but they ought to be able to give you an estimate—especially if you show them last year’s return. To get an idea of how much it would cost to have your return prepared, find out if they charge a flat fee or an hourly rate. Either option is acceptable.
- Outside of tax season, are you still accessible for inquiries? During tax season, some tax preparers open their doors, only to close up shop soon after April 15. A seasonal tax preparer won’t be much help if something goes wrong after you submit your return or you need assistance planning for the next year. Search for a person who is available all year round.
- Who is going to make my return? If the accountant works for a company, the individual you meet with could not be the one who prepares your return; they might delegate it to a less qualified colleague and only check their work. Although doing so will lower your expenditures, it’s important to be aware of who is actually performing the service.
Bonus step: Take a look outside your area
Consider searching outside of your area if you can’t find a tax preparation firm or CPA with whom you feel comfortable working. You are not restricted to the CPAs and tax experts in your town, despite the fact that many people prefer in-person consultations.
A lot of clients find it awkward to disclose their private financial information to a tax preparer in their own community, so they seek help from someone in a different town or state. You can collaborate with accountants anywhere in the nation thanks to technology like Skype and Zoom, secure portals, and electronic filing.
No matter who prepares your tax return, keep in mind that its contents eventually fall under your responsibility. Never sign a tax return without first ensuring its accuracy. Ask the preparer to explain anything about which you are uncertain. Whether you use a pen or an electronic PIN to sign your return, you are swearing under penalty of perjury that it is accurate and error-free.
To assist soothe your concerns during tax season, take the time to engage with a competent tax professional and carefully evaluate their work.
Best Small Business CPA Near Me
If you keep up your books, find a CPA who will work for you intermittently (week by week, month to month, or quarterly), produce articulations, and assess the health of your business. A decent CPA ought to be engaged with your business all the time, not exactly at tax time and they can altogether add to your main concern by setting up and organizing your activities productively
If you need assistance setting-up your bookkeeping framework, keeping up financial archives, inspecting your business’ books or financial explanations, or making financial objectives for your organization, you should employ an accountant.
Even if you have worthy accounting software, it can be complicated to manage your business’s finances when you don’t have a piece of background knowledge in business accounting. Just examining through payroll and bookkeeping procedures can be overwhelming,
Qualification of an Accountant & CPA
The qualification of accountants varies by the type of accountant you need. A basic accountant must have at least a high school diploma and on-job training. A CPA must have a minimum bachelor’s degree in accounting and some certifications.
Small Business Accountant
People nowadays google ‘small business accountants near me’ and they need a CPA who has a decent comprehension of tax laws, bookkeeping programming, and business the board. While meeting A CPA, focus on their relational abilities and how they disclose data to you. Once in a while, a CPA should translate records and data for you, so, significantly, they’re ready to convey clearly. Doing math is significant, yet the capacity to propose cost-cutting measures is important as well.
Just as you would not hire an employee without an interview and a deep examination of their resume, experience, and due diligence, in your choice of CPA, do a background check on the CPA and ask for client references. Also, make sure that your candidates are certified. Look them up online to see if there are any regulatory complaints or marks on their record.
If everything is good, then arrange a meeting to discuss who you are, what you want to do, what steps you have already taken, and your goals. Inquire as to whether they have understanding and aptitude working with a business in your particular field. Similarly, how promptly accessible your CPA will be, how much time they will commit to you, and whether the work will be done at your place of business or the CPA’s.
Expectations from your CPA
You need your upcoming CPA to have the option to offer financial advice and ask you the correct inquiries also. One approach to measure this is to just inquire as to whether they have any inquiries concerning your business. If they don’t, discover another competitor. You have to know how proactive the CPA will be. They must be up in your business (truly and allegorically). The more included they are, the better worth you will get from their administrations, helping you set aside cash and develop your business. My CPA Dashboard provides all such exquisite services.