How to Find a Good Tax Accountant
These days there is accounting software through which you can file tax returns on your own. It is easy since all you need to do is input the figures, and the software does all the computation for you. However, a situation may occur where things get a little complicated and you do not know how to progress from there. This is an indication that you need to hire an accountant. By dealing with a tax accountant, you get to minimize the occurrence of errors. You can also end up getting more refunds than before. With that understanding, the question of how to find a good accountant still remains. Here are some guidelines:
- Certified public accountants (CPAs): These accountants have sat for and passed the respective professional examinations. In order for a person to be accorded such a title, it means they have met all professional requirements required. This is a good starting point. However, not every CPA is an expert in tax matters. The accounting field is broad. When grappling with the dilemma of how to find a good tax accountant, a CPA is an option you need to consider.
- Tax agents: These are also referred to as enrolled agents. They are professionals who have been granted IRS authorization by virtue of working with the state organ for a period of five years. The same could have been appointed after sitting for enrollment exams. These people specialize in different areas of taxation. Before you hire one, find out his/her specialization. Another advantage of working with an EA is that they are supposed to take some continuous courses every 3 years. Therefore, here is a person who lives and breathes taxation. Besides, their fee is lower than that charged by CPAs.
- Referrals: This is why networking is important. Once you pose the challenge of how to find a good tax accountant among your circle of friends, you will always get someone who knows one. Use your networks to get such a person. This is always advantageous since you are being referred to someone whose skills and level of experience has been tested before. Professionals working in different careers also refer clients to one another. Ask the person who refers you to the accountant the kind of experience he or she went through. Ask whether they liked the tax accountant and what the fee is likely to be.
- Background check: Always verify the credentials of the person or firm you are dealing with. Check their reputation with friends or do an online search in case the firm has a website. Contact the IRS and check whether the person is among the authorized tax preparation experts. You can also arrange for a meeting with the accountant and discuss your concerns. Ask as many questions as you feel will help in making your final decision. Check with the professional accounting body that issued the certification on whether the certificates are genuine.
- IRS audits: There is always the possibility that the IRS may pounce on you when you least expect it. Ask the person you intend to hire whether they can represent or assist you go through the process of an IRS audit. You see, the tax accountant is not just like a robot whose work is one-sided. He should also be in a position to offer you some advice on tax matters.
- Other services: As mentioned above, tax accountants do not just compute taxes; they also offer advice and direction. Look for such people who will not only file returns for you but you can consult them when faced with a challenge. Both you and the accountant stand to benefit from this relationship.