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Mar 08

Tips for finding the right accountant before tax season is over.

Small business taxesIt’s early March and you’re looking at the overwhelming pile of business receipts, driving logs, and capital expenditures wondering how on Earth you’re going to make sense of it all before April 15th.  It may just be time to admit that you can’t handle the business’ taxes alone, but how to start looking for an accountant now?

 

It’s a myth; “Good accountants are already booked for the entire tax season and I’m really on my own!”  Good heavens, no! While it is deep into the 2013 tax preparation season, there are still plenty of qualified and experienced accountants, tax preparers and bookkeepers who can help you organize your business’ records and complete your taxes. Procrastinate no more. The clock is ticking and time to complete your taxes by April 15th is running out quickly.

 

Even if you can’t make the April 15 deadline, you still have options.  Most importantly, filing an extension will enable you the time necessary to work with your accountant or tax professional to prepare a well-thought out tax filing. If your tax advisor believes that you will owe money this year, s/he can also do a rough calculation of the amount so you can write a check to the IRS by the April 15 deadline to avoid unnecessary interest and penalties.

 

Top Questions to Ask Your Prospective Accountant

1.    Why types of clients do you work with today? This question can give you a good feel for the depth of services the accountant offers along with possible tax and accounting issues they deal with on a daily basis.

2.    How often do you meet with or schedule time to talk with your clients? If the resounding answer back is once or twice a year, this is probably not the accountant for your small business.  A good relationship with your accountant means that s/he understands your small business, knows the transactions you process and helps you to plan for future capital expenditures and business growth.  Chatting once or twice a year is not going to provide you with the depth of knowledge and expertise in your small business that you’ll need to make strategic business decisions.

3.    What is your working relationship with the state department of revenue and the IRS? Knowing the differences between the various types of accountants may also help answer this question. A certified public accountant (CPA) faces several steps and many years of corporate experience in order to obtain licensure. Enrolled Agents (EA) are the only tax agents authorized to represent tax payers with issues before the IRS. That exclusivity provides EAs with an upper hand on the inner workings of the IRS and can provide tax guidance and strategies utilizing this inside knowledge.  There are also accounting houses that perform bookkeeping, accounting and tax preparing services without the CPA or EA designations. For many small and microbusinesses, these may be more than effective for their immediate needs.  Knowing what your expectations are for your new accountant beforehand will save you a great deal of frustration and misunderstandings later.

4.    What does your firm charge for both tax preparation and annual services?  Of course, as a business owner with an eye to the bottom line, you need to know what the fees are for both tax services and year-round accounting and consultation. Obtain these fees upfront so you can budget.  If the accountant doesn’t provide these fees in a comprehensive, easy to understand format, that’s another clue that it might not be the right firm for you.

5.    Can I see a listing of some of your current clients and may I contact them? If you were interviewing for any other position, you would ask the candidate for references, demand no less from your accountant.  Most firms are happy to provide a list of past and current clients who will sing their praises. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to the clients about their experiences with the accountant, how the accountant interacts with their business office and executives and the impact the accountant has had on growth objectives.

 

 PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants,  Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations. To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice.  Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

Copyright Information 2013 Professional Association of Small Business Accountants

 

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