Choosing an accountant

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kate1234
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Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:19 pm

Choosing an accountant

Post by kate1234 » Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:29 am

Every year I do my taxes myself - with the help of my trusty TurboTax. This year things are just too darned complicated and I need an accountant. I was lucky enough to be in a meeting last night in which I asked a group of friends if they had an accountant they would recommend and four hands shot up enthusiastically. Each has used his or her accountant for over five years and each has returns more complicated than just a 1040 plus Schedule A. So I've got a good start.

What questions should I ask each of these accountants to choose among them?

NOVACPA
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Re: Choosing an accountant

Post by NOVACPA » Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:47 am

First, go here: http://www.aicpa.org/Research/ExternalL ... Links.aspx

Find your state where you do business. They should have a section like "For the Public". This will have a "Find a CPA" type link. Cross reference that with review sites, like Yelp or Angie's List. This way you know they are licensed, active, have up to date credentials, and positive reviews.

Second, ask them who thier primary clientle is. At H&R Block, its W-2 earner or small schedule C filer. Some accountants may only work with doctors, or lawyers, or clients with business entities as the personal returns aren't worth their time. Find out if they serve clients similar to your profile

Next, review your previous year return. Ask if they have are familiar with the following schedules (insert schedules from your return). I would also talk about financial transactions you plan to make in 2015 and ask how they could assist you with them.

Last, be ready to file an extension, pay estimated taxes on 4/15, and file your return in September as any accounting firm worth their fee would be serving their long time clients 20 days out from the filing deadline. Everyone from 3/15 on usually waits...

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prudent
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Re: Choosing an accountant

Post by prudent » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:22 am

I would not expect you'll be able to do any interviewing now, this close to Tax Day. Nobody is going to have time to spare. Like NOVACPA said.

spectec
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Re: Choosing an accountant

Post by spectec » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:54 am

Great advice so far. Especially regarding the extension. Anyone taking on new clients with complex situations at this point is either not very busy or else they take pride in being an an overworked martyr. Last thing you want is a bleary-eyed, cranky, stressed out tax preparer trying to get familiar with your tax filing situation.

Also, dont limit yourself to CPA's. Oftentimes a better choice is an Enrolled Agent. EA's have studied taxes exclusively, have passed rigorous IRS exams, must maintain their credentials through tax-specific continuing education, and are licensed specifically to practice before the IRS. Here's a link - they have a locator button on their site. http://www.naea.org
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

ShiftF5
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Re: Choosing an accountant

Post by ShiftF5 » Tue Mar 24, 2015 9:23 am

I found my CPA through a friend's suggestion.

NOVACPA
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Re: Choosing an accountant

Post by NOVACPA » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:02 pm

An EA, in most cases, must pass a three-part exam and a basic compliance check. A CPA, however, has far more extensive requirements, including: (1) meeting the 150-hour requirement (usually this means having a master’s degree in accounting or taxation), (2) passing a four-part examination that embodies a full scope of accounting, auditing, economics, tax, and law concepts, and (3) working under a CPA (most states require one to two years of work under a CPA).

Additionally, the Enrolled Agent is going to be familiar in state taxes, but they will not have the level of knowledge a CPA would in this area. The IRS is only one taxing entity. Municipalities, states, and other jurisdictions will have compliance and EA would not be familiar with. Your personal situation will ultimately govern your decision.

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