Tips on how and where to find the best CPA professional
Posted by AmandaTom on October 7th, 2012
Whether it is for a large or small business, a certified public accountant (CPA) gives various opinions on whether or not a business’s books are in order. They offer financial and accounting services, manage payrolls and ensure that taxes are handled properly. In addition, they perform specialized services including formation of a business entity (partnership, LLC, S-Corp.), setting up an estate plan, or performing due diligence on an acquisition. Every state has enacted separate standards for qualification in order to become a certified public accountant. These include being required to have minimum educational qualifications in accounting, pass stringent examinations, and have a minimum of experience in the public sector, in order to become licensed by the state. It is essential for a business to choose a reliable accountant or tax preparer and so the certification of an accountant as a CPA is assurance you are getting the best there is. There are many ways to look for accountants; one can check online, inquire from bankers or ask acquaintances, but always do your own due diligence when signing with one, such as verifying their license with the State you are doing business in.
When selecting an accountant or an accounting firm, consider experience and knowledge about taxation laws. It is important to have a CPA who stays updated on the current tax laws because tax laws continually keep changing. As CPA’s are required each year to meet a minimum of continuing education requirements, they must stay current on latest changes to the tax code. Also note that experience gives owners comfort on the expertise the accountant will offer to the organization. Experienced accountants know not only how to properly prepare tax returns but more importantly legally minimize tax payments, called tax avoidance, due to the government thru effective planning strategies. Moreover, local CPA firms are a reliable source of the best experts in the field. Today, there are many franchise firms such as H&R Block that deal with the tax preparation needs of individuals and firms. These franchises may not be the best place to look if you require tax planning. On the other hand, small independent tax preparers can do great work but again don’t ask them for tax planning advice. Remember education and experience matters greatly; therefore consider work history, references, and testimonies before hiring.
Today, many organizations work across several countries; in this situation pick professionals who have worked multi-nationally as they will be more knowledgeable than a local accounting firm. Pick experts in taxation that have a good fit and align with your company in terms of experience and capabilities and facilitate pro-actively managing taxes down.
Don’t forget to consider Enrolled Agents in dealing with taxation matters. An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. EA’s are qualified by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete continuing education courses.
Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before. Although their training is not as vigorous as that of a CPA, Enrolled Agents can work with your CPA to handle your most complex tax issues for generally a lower price. Choose a firm that staffs quality experts at reasonable rates so you have various options at your disposal.
Another option to consider if you are in trouble with the IRS is to select a good tax attorney. A tax attorney is one who is an expert of the Internal Revenue Code and administrative tax law. These individuals can prepare tax returns, but can also go far beyond the ability of an accountant in estate and financial planning issues with potential tax consequences. Like other lawyers, a tax lawyer has gone to law school and been accepted to practice by a state bar association. In addition, they might also have an additional degree in accounting, business, finance, economics, or a related area. Tax attorneys are experts who can handle tax related issues and are conversant with tax laws and in negotiating with the IRS. Again it is advisable for organizations to use referrals in selecting the expert. This will assist the firm to effectively pay taxes without issues and settle with the IRS in some cases for pennies on the dollar. Avoid firms that claim to guarantee results, for example claiming they can save you 20% in taxes. Generally speaking these firms are scam artists.
Finally, try to compare service levels and costs between firms. After the firm has met all qualifications as experts in the field, service and price then come next. A firm must be graded on their responsiveness and communication with their clients. To find a qualified accountant in your community you can google “looking for a CPA in your hometown” and many firms will cascade to view. Check out the firms you find online with their respective State Boards of Accountants to ensure they are licensed and in good standing. Additionally many websites have opted to link job seeking accountants with employers on such sites as Linked-In. Please note however it isn’t unusual for people on these sites to create online profiles exaggerating their qualifications and experience, so you must do your homework and call their personal references and previous employers. As always buyer beware.Certified Public, Tax Returns, Tax Laws, Public Accountant, Tax, Cpa, Accountant
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