accountants en-US When You Should Fire Your Accountant <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-you-should-fire-your-accountant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="arguing" title="arguing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having an accountant can help you keep track of finances, reduce your tax burden, and make more efficient use of your money. If you own a small business, it&rsquo;s especially important to <a href="">hire an accountant</a>, but even individuals can benefit from their services. Those advantages, however, only happen when you have a professional accountant who can do the job well. If you have had some doubts about your accountant's abilities, then you should know when it makes sense to fire your accountant and find someone else. Here are some reasons to consider firing your accountant. (See also: <a href="">3 Things Your Accountant May Not Be Telling You</a>)</p> <h2>Dishonesty and Over-Billing</h2> <p>Your accountant's job isn't to scam you out of money or find ways to make your bill larger. Dishonest accountants can cost you thousands of dollars in fees every year.</p> <p>Typically you can gauge an accountant's honesty by asking him to teach you some basic accounting and bookkeeping skills that you can do on your own. Your accountant shouldn't have any problems teaching you these simple methods to help you save money. If he's unwilling, and you think it's because he wants to earn more money by performing menial tasks, then you should consider letting him go.</p> <h2>Poor Communication</h2> <p>Few people will ever know as much about your life, especially your financial life, as your accountant. Without such intimate knowledge, your accountant couldn't make educated recommendations that will help you do more with your money. &nbsp;</p> <p>Good communication based on trust, therefore, is incredibly important. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your accountant or you just don't like his communication style, then you should feel free to move on to another professional. You shouldn't expect an accountant to become your new best friend, but you should expect him to provide good information in a manner that you can understand.</p> <h2>Vague Advice</h2> <p>Your accountant needs to give you specific advice that will help you save money. Vague advice like &quot;you need to save more money for retirement&quot; doesn't get the job done. You need specifics.</p> <p>A reliable accountant should be able to give you advice that considers the advantages and disadvantages of:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Buying or leasing equipment for your business</li> <li>Saving money in IRA, <a href="">Roth IRA</a>, and other specific <a href="">retirement accounts</a></li> <li>Reducing your tax burden by finding more deductions</li> <li>Choosing accounting software for your business</li> </ul> <h2>Outdated Advice</h2> <p>Tax laws, <a href="">tax filing</a>, and business regulations change all the time. Accountants have to keep up with those changes to offer their clients quality advice. Unfortunately, not all accountants are good at learning the evolving tax code and regulations.</p> <p>If you suspect that your accountant is giving you outdated advice, then you might want to make an appointment with another CPA to see what suggestions she gives you. If you find that her advice is much better and up-to-date than the advice provided by your current accountant, then it's time to move on. Getting outdated advice not only costs you money, it could get you in trouble with the IRS and regulatory agencies.</p> <p>The vast majority of accountants do their work very well. Occasionally, though, you will find one that doesn't meet your needs. When this happens, you should know the warning signs so you can fire him and move on to <a href="">someone with better skills</a>.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="When You Should Fire Your Accountant" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Debbie Dragon</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Taxes accountants hiring professionals tax preparation Thu, 08 Nov 2012 10:36:51 +0000 Debbie Dragon 955161 at 3 Reasons to Hire a Tax Professional (Even If You Don't Mind the Work) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-reasons-to-hire-a-tax-professional-even-if-you-dont-mind-the-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Two business women" title="Two business women" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="150" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The final stretch of tax season is here, and the question of whether you should hire a tax professional is becoming an increasingly stressful matter for those who still haven't touched their tax returns. There are certainly many reasons to pursue the DIY route, especially for people who qualify for free tax filing. But on the flip side, a tax professional may be able to help you more than you think. Here are a few reasons why you should hire a tax professional this year. (See also: <a href="">How to&nbsp;Find the Right Accountant for You</a>)</p> <h3>You Can Focus on&nbsp;Saving More Money</h3> <p>Many people are surprised by the amount of time it takes to work with a certified public accountant (CPA), because it may seem like it requires even more time to work with someone than to file everything yourself.</p> <p>In reality, though, most clients are getting more value out of the extra time they spend with a third party. When you are spending time filing your own taxes, most of the time is spent on paperwork and administration like gathering documents, adding up numbers, and figuring out which forms to fill out. You might also be spending quite a bit of time researching tax rules that may or may not apply to your case. When you work with a CPA, your time is usually spent making sure she is thinking about every deduction that applies to your situation.</p> <p>It's difficult to promise that your tax return will take advantage of every legal deduction that applies to you even if you work with the most diligent pro, but you will likely find more deductions than if you were just filing your own 1040.</p> <h3>You Can Get Advice If You Are Audited</h3> <p>I always recommend working with a tax professional who is willing to represent you in case of a tax audit, because that also implies that she will stand by the work that is being performed. But even if you are told you will be on your own if you get audited, your accountant will almost certainly give you advice if the day comes. After all, she was the person who did your tax return in the first place and will need to make sure you understand the reasons behind all those numbers.</p> <h3>You Have Another Point of Contact for Your Financial Needs</h3> <p>As you work your way up the career ladder, you will eventually have assets to manage. When that day comes, you'll want to talk to as many people as you can about how best to manage those assets. Since many accountants work with small business owners, they may know good estate planners, responsible financial advisers, and even private <a href="">health insurance providers</a>. Take the advice with a grain of salt, because it's up to you to figure out whether the referral is worth the cost, but having the additional option for advice is always good.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="3 Reasons to Hire a Tax Professional (Even If You Don&#039;t Mind the Work)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">David Ning</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Taxes accountants financial advice tax preparation Tue, 20 Mar 2012 09:36:56 +0000 David Ning 911744 at Accountant 101: Finding the Right Match <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/accountant-101-finding-the-right-match" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman holding binoculars" title="woman holding binoculars" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Accountant 101: Finding the Right Match" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>&quot;Do you want to eat well or sleep well?&quot;</p> <p>That's the first thing a former IRS agent turned pubic accountant asked us when we approached him about doing our company taxes.</p> <p>Over the years, we learned he could do both: He helped us save money and we worried less about an IRS audit.</p> <p>Are you worried about an audit? If you're the sole proprietor of a small business, you'd better be. You're a prime a target for IRS audit. If you run a company that uses contract labor, you should be worried, too. The IRS just hired 100 new auditors to check up on you.</p> <p>Regardless what your company does or the size of your firm, an audit can be an intimidating and expensive experience &mdash; even if you did everything correctly and honestly.</p> <p>A small business financing consultant and former banker I know intimately (literally &mdash; I married her) endured a line-item audit. For a consultant, time is money, but for days her time was tied up preparing for the audit and then defending every expense and every deduction. In the end, the exasperated auditor admitted the IRS actually owed her money. It was a small triumph, but it didn't make her any happier or come close to paying for the time she'd lost.</p> <p>In these tough economic times, adding extra cost may not seem like a good idea. But take a hint from my wife. As a financial expert, she knew it was a good idea to have a Certified Pubic Accountant (CPA) prepare her taxes. That extra level of expertise was worth the cost to her, and it can be for you too.</p> <p>The problem, of course, is how to find a good accountant. Some will work alone on your dining room table, and some are part of huge multinational operations with thousands of accountants and dozens of specialized divisions. How do you decide?</p> <p>Before you go CPA-shopping, decide what you really need most and try not to force a square peg into a round hole. Do you want tax planning and financial advice? Do you need someone who can help you with employee compensation and benefit issues? Are you looking for personal retirement and investment planning? Do you just want your taxes prepared at calendar year-end or fiscal year-end? In any case, keep in mind that it's very hard to find a CPA who can &quot;do it all.&quot;</p> <p>The best way to find a good accountant is to talk to other business owners about who they use. People tend to have strong opinions about their advisers, and are eager to refer a good one. Once you decide what you want and what you need (those aren't necessarily the same thing when it comes to cost), interview potential accountants to be sure they can handle those issues that are most important to you.</p> <p>Ask for references &mdash; then talk to them. Ask if they're happy with the level of advice, contact, and attention they get from their accountant. It's one thing for an accountant to tell you what he or she can do for you; it's another for their clients to tell you what the accountants actually do.</p> <p>One way to make sure your financial house is in order, given the complexity of our tax laws, is to find an individual or firm with experience in your industry or, at the very least, the type of industry you're in (such as manufacturing, service, software, retail). And size does matter. A firm equipped to handle issues associated with a big company may not understand the realities of running a sole proprietorship, for example.</p> <p>If your business grosses less than about a million dollars a year, your needs can probably be met best by a small firm where you can have a personal relationship with an individual. They don't need to work in your home, of course, but they should be nearby. If your business is larger, you may need a firm that can offer a range of specialized advice on issues such as employee compensation and benefits, or pension plans.</p> <p>Not all accountants and accounting firms are created equal. A CPA will cost you more than a bookkeeper, but they're better qualified to do your taxes. CPAs must pass a rigorous exam and are required to complete continuing education every year to stay current. And while someone who doesn't have a CPA designation may be qualified, the IRS, your banker, and others will place more confidence in a CPA's work. You may also want to see if your prospective CPA is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) because of the institute's membership standards.</p> <p>In any case, be sure you meet the person who'll be handling your account, not just the individual who &quot;sells&quot; you on the firm. If you decide on a medium or larger firm, a junior accountant will likely do the actual work on your account. Satisfy yourself that they will be properly supervised so you'll get the 'big firm' advice you're paying for.</p> <p>You really don't want to buy accounting advice, or any other professional service, from the lowest bidder. But rates and fees do vary, so shop around. Fees for accounting services vary based on the size of the firm, the experience of the accountant, and the area of the country in which the firm is located. Rates can range from $35 to over $300 per hour. An uncomplicated small business tax return can cost between $200 and $1,500. One way to find out what to expect is to take your prior year return to the prospective accountant so they can give you an idea of what they would charge to do it.</p> <p>Finally, be sure you're comfortable with the individual you choose. While you shouldn't choose an accountant (or doctor or lawyer) simply because you like them, you don't have to settle for someone you don't like.</p> <p>If you spend a few dollars for professional accounting help, you'll find you can eat better and sleep better, too.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tom Harnish</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Small Business Resource Center articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center accountants small business Sun, 22 Aug 2010 04:05:30 +0000 Tom Harnish 205945 at