Selecting a CPA firm is like choosing a mechanic — you want someone you trust implicitly. Both professions can save or cost you thousands of dollars.
Anyone can be a paid tax return preparer as long as they have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). They do not have to be a CPA or have any other designations. Keep in mind, tax return preparers have differing levels of skills, education and expertise.
If you really want to do your homework on prospective CPA firms, the IRS has a directory that allows you to search and filter. They also offer a great list of 10 tips for choosing a tax preparer.
You should interview potential accountants just like you would hire an employee. Have a list of questions when you meet, and make them tough. Here are a few ideas:
- How could you help my business improve cash flow?
- Can you help us apply for a business loan?
- What type of financial planning do you offer?
- Do you have experience with valuation and succession planning?
You want a CPA who is actively working for your business. After all, you’re paying their fees like you would an employee — so make them earn it!
A great CPA firm will sit down with a business owner at least quarterly — if not monthly — to review financials. This important time with an accountant allows business owners to develop a good framework for future decisions.