What to Look for in a Small Business Tax Professional (CPA)

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Tax season is here, and what that means for many small business owners is that they are now meeting with their CPA in order to get their filings done. For one thing, small business owners usually don’t have the time to go through their tax filings themselves, and for another, since they are (usually) not trained in tax law, they might miss some key ways to maximize their tax returns and exemptions. In the end, putting a CPA on your roster is usually worth it if you take the time to make sure the one you choose is the correct fit for your business.

Ensure that your CPA works with businesses like yours. If possible, finding a tax professional who specializes in small business is the strongest move you can make. These pros will be able to get you the best return since their specialty allows them the tie and the incentive to keep up to date on changing small business law and regulations. There will be a difference if your business is classified as a corporation or not, so be sure that you follow up with the right kind of CPA. Save some time for yourself by bringing your last year’s filing along with you to show them, as at a glance this can give a professional accountant a lot of information regarding your business in order for them to better serve your specific needs.

Make sure that you can build a good relationship with your CPA. Obviously you are looking for someone who knows their stuff, but you should also make sure that you can approach them readily and that you feel that you can trust them. The more available and accountable your CPA is the better for you, because generally tax questions will pop up situationally so having them be available to answer things when you need them to is important.

Have a clear discussion about pricing. Before entering into this kind of arrangement, make sure that you discuss hourly rates and the costs involved with keeping them on retainer so that there are no surprises down the road. Pre-negotiating prices can help you preserve a positive relationship as well, as one of the biggest reasons things can turn sour is because of (surprise) issues regarding billing. If you find that the CPA you like is charging more than you are comfortable with, then you can either work something out involving less hours, or ask for a referral from them to one of their colleagues who may offer different packages or rates that you find more suitable.

Once you have a CPA chosen, you must ensure that you put their services to use! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that certain details don’t need to be shared with the CPA or that you can handle things yourself. You hired them, so use them. Tax and other errors due to handling things personally are a pain, but if they still happen when you have a CPA for your company, then there is really no excuse.

Photo Credit to CPABC on Flickr

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