7 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Certified Public Accountant

It is very important to have a good accountant. In these modern times, an accountant should be more than a "bean counter". They should offer...

you a value added service. When it's time to look for a CPA, you want one that doesn't just give you numbers but also that tells you what those numbers mean. 


Here is a list of 7 questions that you should ask when finding yourself the right Certified Public Accountant


1. What "Value Added" services apart from the usual reporting and number-crunching are offered?  

Value Added means information that creates value. A quick example of a value added service is a CPA that takes your through your financial accounts and tells you what the numbers mean and highlights any issues or risks they see for the future. 

A CPA is more than a data entry clerk. They are advisors. They should understand your business and work with you throughout the year giving advice and recommendations.


2. What kind of business advice is on offer? 

A CPA should be looked at like a "business partner". They need to partner with you to create your business success. 

A good CPA will advise clients on what they can do to grow and set goals, and discuss issues. These should all part of a proficient CPA's services. This allows you to discover what works for your business so funds are used wisely. 

A proficient CPA's goal is to save you more in taxes -- it is also in his best interest that you succeed. 


3. Are they "Tech Savvy"? 

In this digital age - more and more things are getting done online. A CPA needs to be able to be tech savvy. Not only will CPA end up costing you less by increasing efficiency, a tech savvy CPA can help you decide the best accounting software for your business. 

Not only can they help you choose the right software for your business, they can set it up for you properly according to your business needs. What many business owners don't realize is that most accounting software are just a template. If not configured properly to your business, you spend a lot more hours than you have to enter information in. 

Linking your files with your CPA's files/system can save time, money and increase accuracy. It is important to discuss how technology can make the work flow efficient so that the CPA can get information easily and readily without causing you stress. A good thing to also find out is how they deal with emails. 


4. Who will I be dealing with? 

Ideally, you should deal with the same CPA. That way a relationship can be built where you are comfortable with each other. This also means that they understand the intricacies of your business and can offer the right advice without wasting time learning about your business. It's also easier to talk to a familiar face or voice. 





5. What's their availability like? Are they a seasonal or year round accountant? 

Believe it or not, some tax preparers are seasonal. They shut up shop on April 15th and then you hear from them the next tax year. Or their offices are closed for a few months each year.

When you are running a small or medium sized business you will need help and advice during the year not just at the start. Make sure you ask for the availability of your CPA. 


6: How are the fees calculated?  

Question is: Is there a fixed amount charge for the year, or will you be charged for every phone discussion? CPAs may bill by the hour, by return type, fixed fee for the year or some other combination. 

Regardless of the billing approach, it is essential to discuss the CPA's fee structure upfront. Usually, a CPA can provide a good indication of the fee by having a chat with you and examining a copy of your previous year's tax returns. 

However, to be safe, be sure to ask questions like what a two minute phone call or a response to an email will cost you. 


7. How often does communication happen about tax issues? 

Communication is important. Do you get told at the very last minute that something is due? Or do you received communication well in advance? Every CPA is different when it comes to frequency of communication. 

It is important to know what is due and when. Quite often being bogged down in the day to day grind, you may forget when something is due. Communication is key to making sure that no deadline is missed and keep the IRS happy. 

Ask the CPA what their communication policies are and how do they ensure their clients never miss filing their taxes.





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