When looking for a professional to handle your taxes, you need to make sure that you make the right choice. There are many benefits of having a tax accountant handle your taxes, but you should ask plenty of questions before you place all of your most important information in a stranger’s hands.
Why would you need a tax accountant? Most people feel that they can handle their own tax situation, however, there are some benefits that make hiring someone well worth the cost.
For example, preparing your own taxes can be quite time-consuming and stressful. You can be left with a lingering fear of an audit situation. Many people are frustrated and confused — which can lead to mistakes. Hiring a professional gives your tax returns an increased level of accuracy. Your tax situation could be quite complex, including stock market investments, business dealings, rental properties and other tax situations. If it is, you will need specialized advice.
If you have the goal of paying as little taxes as possible, a tax professional could be very helpful. He or she can provide you with detailed planning and advice. If you are facing a tax situation, such as the filing of back taxes, paying off a tax debt or fighting an audit, you shouldn’t go through it alone.
When looking for an experienced tax accountant, you need to make sure that you find the best professional for your financial situation. Ask your friends, family and business associates who they would recommend. It helps to ask someone who has a similar tax situation as you do.
Accountants should never promise you big refunds. If someone tells you that everything is deductible, you should be wary. You will be ultimately responsible for all of the information on your tax return in the eyes of the IRS, not your accountant.
There is nothing wrong with switching accountants. If you aren’t comfortable or feel that your accountant isn’t right for your financial situation, you need to do what is best for your tax situation. Don’t feel that you have to be loyal to your accountant no matter what. I recently had a friend tell me that they stay with their accountant because he is great at what he does, even if he doesn’t let them take deductions that they qualify for.
If you have a relatively straight-forward tax return, retail franchises could provide adequate services for your needs. Some tax preparers are more experienced. You often can find a CPA or an Enrolled Agent working in a tax preparation company. Ask if you can meet with a CPA, enrolled agent or the senior tax preparer. As you are charged by the number of tax forms necessary to file your taxes, you won’t pay any more to talk to someone with more experience.
Local tax firms offer specialize in individuals and small businesses. Make sure that you check out their expertise to make sure that they can handle your taxes. Enrolled Agents have passed a rigorous test and a background check by the IS. They often specialize in complex tax situations. CPAs have passed the CPA exam and are licensed by the state they work in. They usually specialize in specific areas, such as audits, taxes or business consulting. They are best for complex accounting, however not all CPAs will handle tax situations.
Tax attorneys have chosen to specialize in tax law. They usually have their juris doctor degree and a master of laws degree in taxations. They are great for handling your complex legal matters, such as estate tax returns.
When meeting with a tax professional, you should ask some questions to ensure that you find an experienced, trustworthy tax accountant.
Make sure that you ask the following:
- How long have you been in business?
- What licenses do you have?
- What tax issues do you specialize in?
- Do you have experience in tax situations like mine?
- Do you outsource any work?
- How long will it take to complete my tax return?
- Am I currently paying too much, too little or just the right amount of taxes, in your opinion?
Tax accountants usually have very different attitudes about the US tax system. You want to find one that you can work well with and trust with your finances. You want to find an experienced, competent tax accountant who specializes in your situation and can help you minimize your taxes.
After you have narrowed down your choices, perform a quick background check. Contact your state’s board of accountancy to check on the license. They can tell you if any disciplinary action has been taken against the CPA. The IRS Office of Professional Responsibility can help you with Enrolled Agents, their licensing and their disciplinary history.