Small Business Accounting Consultant – You’re not the only one dreading filing taxes and wondering where to find a trusted Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or tax expert. According to the IRS, approximately 54% of the more than 261 million tax returns filed through November 2021 (for the 2020 tax year) were prepared by a professional.
The forces of innovation and technological development are changing business. As business performance indicators, CPAs and financial experts are looking for ways to use this flood of progress to improve methods, drive innovation, and gain additional and increasingly important insights for clients and partners. It is a common goal of internal audit and control that works with managers to ensure the accuracy of financial reporting, provides important advice and helps identify threats and vulnerabilities.
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Like finance and accounting, internal audit has evolved over the years, expanding from earlier financial records to include more advisory roles and providing expertise in everything from cyber security to governance continuity and HR. The accounting profession is run by many people with similar capabilities such as innovation, risk and growing partnership aspirations.
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Dealing with small business finances can be a challenge when you are unfamiliar with taxes, credits, and recording transactions. A small business accountant can provide you with the financial capability and direction you need to keep your business successful.
Although hiring a CPA is not mandatory, it tends to be a big help when it comes to auditing financial documents and filing taxes. The advice that a successful business CPA brings to your organization’s table can very well be the difference between success and failure, and their expertise can help you make choices about how your business grows.
The first step in choosing a CPA is to figure out what you expect to achieve for you. Some CPAs want to do bookkeeping, while others focus on larger business ventures. If you are looking for an accountant who can handle your daily or weekly accounting duties simply like an accountant, you need to look for the best accountant who offers two kinds of help. .
Hiring a CPA or tax expert can relieve you of the tedious and often stressful work of understanding IRS rules and requirements. However, the wrong employment can cause more harm than good.
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The IRS maintains a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax frauds each year. While there are many potential scams on the list, many are perpetrated by unscrupulous tax preparers who may promise inflated refunds, falsely claim deductions and credits, or encourage clients to avoid paying taxes.
Unfortunately, almost anyone can work as a paid tax preparer. Most states have little or no training, certification, or even competency assessment requirements.
So how do you find a trustworthy person? Find a certified public accountant (CPA) or tax accountant in your area with our three-step guide.
Asking for a referral is a great way to find a CPA or accountant, as with most providers. Make a list of three or four potential accountants instead of going with the first name you were given. So:
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Accountants and CPAs often focus on specific markets or specialties, such as serving clients who run small businesses, are very wealthy, or belong to specialized professions. For example, if you are a doctor, ask other doctors who they recommend. Family, friends, peers and co-workers are great sources of referrals.
A preparer tax identification number (PTIN) is one of the requirements that every tax preparer must meet. A PTIN alone does not indicate a person’s talent or expertise, as anyone can apply for one online without paying anything.
However, the IRS maintains a list of PTIN holders who hold current IRS-recognized credentials, including CPAs, Enrolled Agents (EAs), and attorneys. Additionally, the database lists those who have successfully completed the annual application period program, a series of voluntary continuing education courses covering federal tax law and ethics. Search the directory by zip code to find a Certified Tax Professional or CPA near you.
Many state boards of accountancy and state CPA organizations maintain member directories online or can provide you with a list of local tax experts upon request. You may need to do your own research or call the CPAs listed to see if they offer the specific tax services you need, as not all CPAs prepare taxes.
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EAs are federally licensed tax professionals who can represent, advise and prepare tax returns for individuals and businesses. The EA Directory is maintained by the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). You can search the directory by location, industry, language, experience and other criteria.
If you earn less than $56,000 a year or are 60 or older, you may want to consider filing your tax return through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.
The IRS funds these free services, which are provided by volunteers who have completed basic tax preparation training. If you are eligible, use the VITA/TCE locator tool to find a provider near you.
According to the IRS, most VITA and TCE websites appear in search results up to three weeks before they are published. If you are looking for a place outside of mid-January to April, it may be difficult to find one nearby.
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Once found, check out the IRS list of things to bring to your tax meeting.
It’s time to select the perfect tax preparer from a list of likely local candidates. What you should do is:
Tax preparer credentials are probably valid if you obtained their name from the IRS, your state’s board of accountants, your state’s CPA organization, or the NAEA. However, if you have been assigned a name through a referral, it would be wise to confirm that the person actually has the credentials they claim.
CPA Verify, a database of licensed CPAs and public accounting firms, is available online in 47 states (including Washington), Puerto Rico and Guam. To verify your CPA credentials, visit your state’s board of accountancy website or the CPA Verify database. You can confirm your EA status at EATAx.org.
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Examine the content posted on your prospective CPA or tax preparer’s website and social media profiles. Read online reviews on Facebook, Thervo, Google, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Google their name to see what comes up and make sure there’s nothing hidden in the first few pages of results.
Anyone who deals with the public has almost certainly received a bad online review from a disgruntled customer. However, if your investigation turns up red flags, such as a pattern of customer complaints, inappropriate social media posts, or an arrest history, move on to the next applicant.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to the most potential candidates, contact them and request a meeting as soon as possible. But be aware: it can be difficult to find someone who has time to sit down with you if you wait to set up an appointment until the 2022 tax season is in full swing. If possible, schedule your consultation in January or February, even if you don’t have all your tax paperwork ready.
Bring a copy of your most recent tax return when consulting with a potential accountant. One of the best ways for a tax professional to assess your situation and provide an estimate of how much they will pay is to review your most recent return.
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Any major life changes you’ve made in the past year, such as getting married (or divorced), investing in rental property or starting a business, should be reported to your future accountant.
Consider looking outside of your area if you can’t find a tax preparation firm or CPA you’re comfortable with. You are not limited to CPAs and tax experts in your town, although many people prefer personal consultations.
Many clients are uncomfortable sharing their personal financial information with their community tax preparer, so they seek help from someone in another city or state. With technologies like Skype and Zoom, secure portals and electronic filing, you can work with accountants anywhere in the country.
Regardless of who prepares your tax return, remember that you are ultimately responsible for its content. Never sign a tax return without verifying that it is correct. Ask the processor to clarify anything you are unsure about. Whether you use a pen or electronic PIN to sign your return, you swear under perjury that it is accurate and error-free.
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To take it easy during tax season, take the time to connect with a competent tax professional and carefully review their work.
If you continue your