Traits Your Accountant Should Have To Deliver Expected Results

How To Find The Perfect Accountant For Your Small Business

Everyone wants their small business to succeed, which means everyone needs a small business accountant. Yes, even if you use accounting software and do your own bookkeeping, a professional accountant is indispensable.

In this post, we’ll provide five easy steps for finding an accountant for your business. We’ll teach you where to look and how to tell a good accountant from a bad accountant. We’ll also give you the top tips and tricks for choosing the perfect accountant

Know When & Why You Need An Accountant

Sure tech-savvy business owners can use accounting software to manage their own bookkeeping, but when it comes to actual accounting, you’ll want the many advantages of having an expert onboard. As a small business owner, you should do everything you can to set yourself up for financial success; the best way to do that is to hire an accountant.

Accountants do so much more than just help you file your taxes. An accountant can give sound business advice when you’re setting up your business, analyzing your cash flow, trying to improve efficiency, facing an audit, and much more. Read our full post When Should You Hire An Accountant For Your Business to learn every instance when an accountant can help.

For example, if you just want tax advice and help filing your tax returns, you may want an enrolled agent (EA) instead of a full-on accountant. If you want business advice and tax advice, a certified public accountant (CPA) with expertise in your business industry may be a better way to go.

How to choose an accountant for your small business

Choosing the right accountant for you and your small business is imperative. An accountant can be like a partner, a trusted colleague who will provide guidance, especially regarding taxes as they can be quite complicated. In order for your business to grow, you are going to need a good accountant to offer advice and give you facts about your finances.

If you are paying for their service, you will need your accountant to make you a priority as and when you need them. As hiring an accountant is a significant business decision, you will need to carry out due diligence to help you decide on the right person.

An accountant is essential to most small businesses, small business owners have a large work load and most don’t have time to keep on top of taxes. An accountant ensures that you are meeting all your tax deadlines and take that extra work load away from you. Failing to comply with the tax laws and making mistakes when dealing with taxes can be problematic and costly for small businesses therefore, you will need a good accountant. Here is how to choose the right accountant for your small business.

Initial contact

The process of choosing an accountant for your small business can be simple. When you finally decide that you need an accountant, seek recommendations from your contacts. If you are a small business owner, then ask others in your position to recommend their accountants, or any other advice they can offer. After you have a couple of options, shortlist them and then you can begin looking at the individuals in details. Don’t hesitate to contact the accountants to get to know them to see if they are a good fit.

Services

Accountants will offer different services, and you can choose which services you will need from them. For example, they may offer a bookkeeping service, but if you opt to use online accounting software, then you may not need their assistance for that particular service. You will need to figure out what is it that you need from the accountant, is it only some services or do you need them to handle the majority of your business finances? Keep in mind that the more time your accountant takes carrying out your tasks, the higher the fees. That is why accounting software can be great, as it can help you reduce your accountant costs. Your accountant can also help you suggest good accounting software as they will need to work with the system.

How to Choose an Accountant For Your Small Business

If you’ve finally decided to take the huge step of becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business, you may need to start thinking of hiring an accountant. Whether you choose to go for a full-time accountant or enlist the services of a professional accounting firm, choosing your accountant is a crucial milestone for your enterprise

First and foremost, the right accountant will make sure that your business is compliant with HMRC and Companies House, and also assist you to reduce tax bills, avoid unnecessary penalties and fines as well as help you to grow your business. But, many small businesses do just fine without hiring an accountant to handle their books. The decision to hire a professional accountant solely rest on you and whatever you decide will ultimately affect the survival and success of your business.

Establish Your Needs

The first step in finding the right accountant for your small business is to establish your needs. Ideally, you should ask yourself what do you need an accountant for? Is it to consolidate your annual accounts or manage your payroll, or file tax returns or simply manage the books. Whatever it is, you should identify what your business needs and then proceed to look for someone who can best meet these needs.

Do Some Due-Diligence

A report by Oxford Economics revealed that were more than 500,000 individuals who practiced as professional accountants in 2016. Why does this statistic matter to you? Well, first and foremost – it tells you that are plenty of professional accountants to choose from which is a good thing. But, because there are so many people to choose from, it can be difficult to find the right professional for your small business.

Ensure That They Are Familiar With Your Niche Industry

The best accountant for you is one who’s aligned with your business and niche industry. Look at the specific industry you’re in and check to see if an accountant has experience dealing with other businesses and companies in your niche. For instance, if you are a tech startup, you will want to hire an accountant who is also tech-driven – preferably, they should leverage different types of accounting software like FreeAgent or Xero when working for you. However, if hiring an accountant who is familiar with your industry is not a top priority for you, you can still opt to go with a traditional and all-round accountant.

How to Choose the Right Accountant for Your Business

Accounting firms are unique, and selecting the right one is crucial for your business.

Accountancy is an essential tool in the small business arsenal. Without good financial practice, the foundations of a stable brand simply cannot be built. While some microbusinesses may opt to manage their own finances, many larger firms require support from experts as their economic structure becomes more complicated. From managing payments to dealing with government obligations and taxation, accountants can provide a backbone on which the rest of a business is supported.

Similar to all facets of the modern business operation, opting for the right person or firm for the job is essential for developing the best opportunities. This is because accountants have specialties with particular skills, strengths and weaknesses. They have unique experiences and varied qualifications/accreditations. While many may offer the same basic services, it is how they offer these services – along with the special knowledge they have – that is so important to achieving your business’s specific development goals.

Understand your own business needs.

You can’t choose the right accountant for your business if you don’t understand both your financial and growth needs.

Consider that your accountant is like a piece of sports equipment. You wouldn’t invest in a tennis racket without first considering things like grip size, weight, strings type and durability, for example. What are these based on? Your needs as a player and an individual.

So how do you identify the core needs of your business as they relate to accountancy? Well, start by thinking about the basics:

What does your business do?

What industry does it operate in?

What is the turnover?

How many people do you employ?

How many clients/customers do you work with?

How much can you afford to spend on an accountant?

How to find the right accountant for your needs

No two accountants are the same, which means you’re likely to find one in your area perfectly suited to your needs. First, consider the following five points before setting out to find the right accountant for you.

Understand your needs

Get clear on what your needs are before you start looking for an accountant, so you can narrow down options. Understand what services you need someone to handle for you, and if there is a particular level of expertise or experience that will be required.

Check qualifications

Obviously you must check the qualifications of everyone you consider, too. Depending on your needs, you might be searching for a Chartered Accountant or a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA), or it may not matter to you which body the accountant is certified by.

Find a specialist

You can hire a general accountant who handles a variety of jobs, or you might decide to choose a specialist for one or more areas. There are tax accountants who focus on the preparation of individual or company tax returns, and who can help you to structure your business in the most tax-effective way.

Consider location

Years ago, everyone pretty much just chose an accountant that worked in their local area. Today, thanks to technology, things have changed and it’s possible to hire an accountant from anywhere around the world. If you need to find a specialist but there isn’t one in your city, it’s really helpful to be able to go elsewhere to find the right person.

Where To Deduct Tax Preparation Fees

Tips to Find a Good Tax Preparer

This tax season is the first time many Americans will see how the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects them. Some may be pleasantly surprised by big refunds, and others may have to reach deeper into their pockets to pay Uncle Sam.

If you decide to turn to a professional to help you with your returns, your first step is to identify the type of tax preparer you need. Regardless of whether you choose a tax expert in private practice or a storefront tax-prep company, you’ll want someone who has the right experience for your particular needs and can work at a price you can afford.

Check the Tax Preparer’s Credentials

Anyone with a preparer tax identification number can handle and file your taxes, but it’s best to find someone who also can handle audits, IRS collections, and appeals, says Ann-Marie Long, a CPA and tax manager at SKC & Co., a CPA firm based in Boonton Township, N.J. Only a certified public accountant or an enrolled agent—another type of tax professional—can represent you before the IRS in those situations, she notes.

The IRS’ Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers is a good place to find tax pros with credentials and select qualifications. If you live in California, Maryland, or Oregon, ask the preparer to see a current license, which is required by law in those states.

It’s also a good idea to look for a preparer who’s a member of a professional organization and who attends continuing education classes. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants helps consumers find a CPA; it also links to state sites, some of which have search engines to find local CPAs

How to Find the Best Tax Preparer for You

Types of Tax Return Pros

You can have anyone—your uncle, your neighbor, or your best friend—prepare your tax return. But if you’re paying for this service, the person must be registered with the IRS and have a current preparer tax identification number (PTIN), which is an IRS number issued annually to eligible preparers

Eligible paid preparers fall into different categories, depending on their education, certification by professional organizations, and continuing education requirements.

Attorneys: These professionals are licensed by states or state bar associations to practice law and are subject to continuing education requirements and a code of ethics.

CPAs: Certified public accountants are professionals who have passed the Uniform CPA Examination and been licensed by state boards of accountancy; they also have continuing education requirements.

Enrolled agents: These are individuals who have passed a three-part Special Enrollment Examination demonstrating competency in federal taxation and been licensed by the IRS. They, too, have continuing education requirements.

Annual filing season program participants: These individuals are not attorneys, CPAs, or enrolled agents but have completed an IRS program and obtained continuing education.

Any other preparer with a PTIN: These are individuals who believe they have sufficient knowledge to prepare returns and have paid the fee to obtain a PTIN. They are not subject to any oversight by a state, a professional board, or the IRS

The IRS has an online directory of preparers with PTINs. It includes attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, and annual filing season program participants, but not preparers who merely have a PTIN but no other credentials. You can search for a preparer by credentials, zip code, and distance from you

(There are also enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries who are preparers with PTINs. These experts typically don’t do consumer tax returns, although they are included in the IRS directory.)

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

You’re really organized and on top of things this tax season. Good for you! You received all your W-2s and 1099s, you collected all your financial statements and receipts, and now it’s time to find someone to prepare your tax return. But there’s one problem…you’re not quite sure how to go about choosing a tax preparer.

It goes without saying that you want someone who’s qualified. But how do you know? You want someone who’s honest and reliable, too. But, again, how do you know? The last thing you want to do is search online for “tax preparers near me” and randomly pick a preparer from the list, but sometimes it feels like there’s no better way.

Relax. There is a better way. Follow these 5 tips for picking a tax preparer to help you weed out the fly-by-night preparers and zero in on the best tax professionals in your area. With a little bit of time and a few targeted questions, you can find a competent and dependable preparer to complete and file your return.

Verify the Preparer’s Credentials

There are a lot of people out there claiming to be a “tax professional.” However, just because someone hangs out a shingle and advertises tax prep services, it doesn’t mean they actually have the skill, education, and expertise to handle your return.

To increase the odds of finding a qualified tax preparer, look for someone who is credentialed. You’re much more likely to get a competent preparer if they’ve been vetted by the IRS or a state regulatory board. The most common types of credentialed preparers are certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, attorneys, and annual filing season program participants.

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

If you’re expecting a tax refund, you may be eager to file your taxes as soon as possible so you can pay off debt, build an emergency or other savings account or shop for any number of previously unaffordable consumer goods

However, rushing into a relationship with the first tax preparer you find could be a big mistake. The IRS recommends choosing a tax return preparer carefully, since no matter who prepares your taxes, you’re still ultimately responsible for all the information on your tax return

Understand tax preparer qualifications

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there are around 700,000 non-credentialed tax preparers in the U.S. Many states don’t require tax preparers to pass an exam or obtain a license. While non-credentialed tax preparers may be top-notch preparers, they have limited representation rights and can’t represent you in court or regarding appeals or collection matters.

Search by qualifications

If you need a tax preparer with specific qualifications such as enrolled agent, attorney, Certified Public Accountant or enrolled retirement plan agent, search the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications

Interview tax preparers

Make sure a tax preparer has an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN) through the IRS and check whether the person meets state requirements. Then interview the tax preparer thoroughly. Ask about fees, availability and what kinds of records the tax preparer will need.

How to Choose the Right Tax Preparer

It is that magical time of the year again and if you are looking for someone to prepare your taxes, there are many factors to consider including expertise and pricing. We are all unique and there is no one size fits all. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!

Find out what their tax background and experience is. What is their training? What are their qualifications and credentials? How long have they been preparing tax returns? Also, some tax preparers are not a certified public accountants (CPA) and don’t have a formal credential but yet may be competent. Ask questions to find out what makes them qualified to prepare tax returns

Find out if the tax preparer has experience with the type of return that you must file. Tax returns are not all the same and range from 1040-EZ to various involved schedules. Tax preparers may focus on a certain type of return but may also have sufficient knowledge in many areas.  However, if your return is specialized, you will want to find a tax preparer who has a lot of experience with that type of return. . Ask about their experience with individual returns vs. corporate returns. In my experience, tax preparers who specialize in corporate tax returns, which tend to be more expensive, charge a higher minimum fee. This is something to keep in mind if you are only looking for personal tax return preparation.

Ensure that the tax preparer is familiar with the requirements of the states and localities that you must file in. For example, if you live in one state but work in another, there may be filing requirements to consider. Also, you may have a business that has sales in different states, own property in another state or have relocated to a different state during the year

Know in advance what records, documents and other information that the tax preparer will require of you. This could save you time and money. A competent tax preparer will ask for many different documents and be able to explain what you will need to provide for special circumstances you may have. Personally, I like it when a tax preparer offers a thorough checklist to review, which would enable a thorough tax preparer to make sure nothing has been missed, such as long-term care insurance premium deductions, investment fees or student loan payments.