There is a common misconception in the United States that only individuals who have amassed significant wealth, benefit from the services provided by an accountant. Accountants can be helpful to anyone. A Certified Public Accountant has extensive accounting training and can consult on personal finances, business finances along with tax. Many CPA firms specialize in tax filings, but also provide financial consulting services as well. Choosing the right accountant is very important and comes down to personal factors, as the relationship between client and accountant is personal. In order for an accountant to work effectively, the client must fully disclose his or her finances, which makes comfort an important part of the decision. Also, accounting has distinct specialties, so it is, therefore, best to understand one’s own needs prior to beginning the search. Here are several tips to consider when beginning the quest for an accountant, to ensure an ideal fit.
Qualifications and Credentials
The IRS requires any professional that prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns, in exchange for compensation, to have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). While obtaining a PTIN is relatively easy, any credentialed preparer (i.e. certified public accountants, enrolled agent, licensed attorney…etc.) must take certain steps to remain in good standing. For example, every certified public accountant (CPA) must complete a number of continuing education credits, yearly, to maintain their preparer tax ID number. There are different requirements for each type of credentialed preparer with varying amounts of study, exams and ongoing education. Hence, it is highly important to make sure the accountant selected has a valid PTIN.
Ask questions regarding the accountant’s experience, services provided, specialties…etc. Any reputable accountant will answer as many questions as needed to help put a perspective client at ease and establish a foundation of trust. Here are some examples:
- How often should we be in touch?
- What is the best method for contacting you?
- What is your approximate response time?
- What changes would you suggest I implement to improve my finances?
- What are your fees?
- Where are you located?
- Are you able to provide remote services?
- Do you have the capability to electronically file taxes?
The answers to the above questions can help an individual understand more about a potential accountant, and whether or not they will be a good match. Furthermore, it is advantageous to obtain and check references prior to hiring an accountant. It is also imperative to do one’s own due diligence with regards to hiring someone to provide financial guidance and assistance.
Where to Look
There is an abundance of accounting services available across America, with a wide variety of specialties. The IRS provides a directory of federal tax return preparers with credentials and select qualifications. You might start by asking around (a trusted family member, an individual within one’s professional network, and/ or around one’s peripheral business network…etc.) since word of mouth has been known to be a powerful and effective tool in identifying a reputable accountant. Another option is to conduct an online search for an accountant. In this case it is advisable to still do your due diligence prior to making any type of commitment.
For Further Information
There is no need for anyone to struggle through the preparation of their taxes, nor should a business leave itself vulnerable to audit due to reporting or filing errors. An accounting professional’s role is to guide individuals and businesses through the maze of tax and compliance. With decades of experience and the full range of accounting and tax services we provide, we are equipped with the expertise needed to be a valuable member your professional advisor team. Krowne Certified Public Accountants offer unparalleled financial guidance and professional services tailored to our client’s needs. Please feel free to reach out to us at Krowne Certified Public Accountants by filling out the form on our contact us page or via phone at 818-831-6075. We’d love to discuss your situation and how we can help you grow. We look forward to hearing from you.