Hiring a CPA or Tax Advisor? Ask These 5 Questions First
5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Tax Advisor or CPA
While it’s great to file your taxes ahead of the April deadline, it’s understandable that sometimes you just need a little more time or help going through all the nuances of tax laws. For those that do need help, hiring a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or tax advisor can be the best option to ensure your taxes are filed appropriately.
Your year-round financial planner may be able to provide some recommendations during tax season, but it’s not a bad idea to hire a specific tax preparer. You want to work with someone who is knowledgeable about the ins-and-outs of tax laws given how nuanced they can be at both the federal and state levels.
But before you go out and hire just anyone, there are questions you need to ask first. You’ll want to make sure the person you hire is certified with a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) and that they’d be willing to stand behind your filing should any audit concerns arise in the future.
Here are five questions you should ask before giving a CPA or tax advisor your hard-earned money.
1.) Can you explain the rationale behind the numbers? Your CPA or tax advisor should not only file for you, but also be available to explain the reasoning behind why they filed the way they did. You want to ensure they can provide a clear picture of your tax situation and make sure you understand what’s going on.
2.) What opportunities do I have to reduce my tax liability? This is something they should be willing to discuss with you each year. More importantly, they should start the conversation as early as January so you have ample time to plan for how you are going to file.
3.) Can you work with my current financial planner? Taxes are just one part of your overall financial picture. Your tax advisor should be available to meet with your ongoing financial planner and be clear upfront if they charge extra fees for coordinating with your other consultants.
4.) What are your bookkeeping fees? For business owners, this is an especially important question to ask, as they will need to get a handle around all your business expenses and what’s eligible to write-off. Find out if a bookkeeping fee is included into the total quote they provide.
5.) How do you charge for your services? To ensure you are budgeting appropriately to cover your CPA or tax advisor’s fee, ask if they charge hourly, monthly or by retainer (total cost for entire duration of service).
The Bottom Line:
There are plenty of CPAs and tax advisors out there, but make sure you are asking the right questions before you hire just anyone. You’ll want to make sure they are credible and will explain the numbers to you in simple terms. A good tax advisor is an advocate for you and has you in his/her best interest, not just someone who punches in the numbers for you.
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