Looking for a CPA and/or tax accountant can be a challenging task, the ideal accountant is one who not only can help you save money and avoid potential trouble with the IRS, but one who can also provide useful insight and proactive planning for your business. With the growth of the small businesses in North America, accountants these days are so much more than “numbers people”, they need to know how to communicate what the numbers mean and how to make adjustments to help businesses and individuals alike achieve financial success.
Don’t be scared to shop around and interview several accounting firms to figure out which one will best suit your needs. Accounting Solutions Ltd. has been around for over 25 years and we’ve compiled this list to help you make a decision:
1. Are you available to me year round?
It is common for some accounting firms to close their doors after April 15 and reopen again for the following tax season. But when you’re running a small business, you’re going to need an accountant who will be available to you all year round.
2. Who will be doing the work?
Some of the larger accounting firms will outsource work to a third party agency. Of course this doesn’t mean their services will fail you, but you want to be sure whom ever you hire is forthright about who will be doing the work. For instance, if you want to speak with someone familiar with your bookkeeping and you find out that it is a third party, chances are it will be difficult to speak with them directly.
3. What kinds of clients do you work with?
You want to make sure your accountant understands your type of business and the niche you are in as different businesses require different accounting principles. A restaurant will have certain rules to follow for wages and tips, for instance, just as a construction business must deal with issues related to contract workers. Look for an accountant who has worked with other businesses like yours and knows the ins and outs of your industry.
4. What’s your experience with the IRS?
Does the accounting firm you are interviewing hire certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents (EAs) or only one of the two? While CPAs are state-certified and have training in such areas as financial planning and bookkeeping, EAs are certified by the federal government specifically to handle taxes and are often former IRS agents with extensive experience dealing with audits. Don’t focus only on your accountant’s certifications, ask about their experience and how it is relevant to your business.
5. How do you handle working with multiple entities?
If you have more than one entity under your name, be sure the accounting firm you hire can manage them simultaneously. If you own a rental property as an LLC and a retail store registered as an s-corporation, for example, you’ll need an accountant who can coordinate and track money moving between those entities.
6. What tax program do you use?
While it is not important to choose your accountant based on what tax program they use, it is a good detail to ask. QuickBooks is commonly used for small businesses, which means your information would likely be easily transferred between different accountants. Hiring an accountant who uses more obscure tax software won’t affect the quality of the work, but it might make it tricky to switch accountants.
7. How often will we communicate about tax issues?
Every accountant will be different when it comes to the frequency of communication for tax planning purposes. In addition, some accountants analyze your progress month-by-month while others will take the time to learn your business trends and proactively offer suggestions and solutions to save you money. Ask about a prospective accountant’s approach and be sure you’re satisfied with the degree of communication. It is imperative that you feel comfortable calling them with issues relating to your taxes and your business.
Accounting Solutions Ltd. offers FREE 60 minute private consultations to meet new clients and learn about their needs. This is an excellent way to ask questions and find out if we will be a good fit for your business. To book your FREE consultation today, call us at (773) 267 – 7500.