Tax time isn't the only time you might want to think about evaluating the relationship you have with your tax professional. Are you getting what you need? Could your CPA help you with much-needed tax planning rather than just the tax preparation process?
Consider these five questions to evaluate—and potentially improve—your accounting situation.
1. Are You Like-Minded?
If you find yourself vehemently disagreeing with the way your tax and accounting matters are handled, you may have more than a slight problem. This isn't only about routine deductions. This may impact how your CPA handles matters before the IRS. Being like-minded also means you likely feel more comfortable calling your tax professional with questions. Finding that comfort zone can be an important factor to best leveraging the tax professional’s knowledge and experience.
—Marjorie Adams, President, Fourlane
2. Is Your CPA Responsive?
Busy season may be killer, but you should still be able to get your tax and accounting questions answered in a timely manner, professionally and courteously. If you're waiting too long to get answers you need regarding your business, it may be time to find someone new.
3. Is Your Paperwork Filed on Time?
While you can’t really blame the firm if you don’t submit your information on time, you may have the right to be upset if the firm isn’t proactive in reminding you about, and filing for, an extension. If your accountant isn’t proactive, this may be the time to consider whether you're truly valued or just another client.
4. Does Your CPA Give You Adjustments for Your General Ledger?
A tax professional should ideally analyze your expenses to determine whether they're legitimate, evaluating your equipment to capitalize on it and making depreciation adjustments. All these things will hopefully be reflected in your general ledger to keep you on track and compliant. If you aren’t getting recommendations on how to reclassify expenses, you may want to ask why.
5. Is Your Tax Professional Proactively Advising Your Business?
Compliance may be crucial for staying out of trouble, but planning may also be important to reduce your overall tax burden. Filling out a tax return is relatively simple; what you likely want to be paying for is the tax professional’s expertise. Ideally you want a CPA knowledgeable about your business, industry, tax situation and financial statements. A good accountant may often advise you on everything you need, from insurance to the impact expansion will have on your operating expenses. If you’re not getting this benefit from your tax professionals, it may be time to find a new firm.
Marjorie Adams is president/CEO of AQB, a business process and software consulting firm, and a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
Read more articles on small-business taxes.
This article was originally published on March 31, 2015.