The following is a guest post from Holly Neitzel of Accounting SPOT.
photo via David Reber
Taxes, taxes, taxes... it is on everyone's mind this time of year!
If I have done my job, you will have a simple financial report you can use to complete your taxes. Some of you may go at your taxes yourself, others may want a CPA to complete them for you. I have heard many times, small business owners don't know how to go about finding a CPA that suits their needs.
Recently, I came across the most knowledgeable and helpful CPA, Ana Gonzalez. She offered the following advice and has graciously allowed me to repost her insight here for you:
"The best way to find a CPA that will fit you is to ask the owners of similarly sized/type businesses for a recommendation. If that does not work, call your local CPA state society and ask for several referrals.
"And deciding on a CPA is the same as interviewing someone you are thinking of hiring as an employee - you will be interviewing the CPA, do not let him/her intimidate you, you are the client. If you don't understand something, ask for an explanation in layman's terms, but don't expect a full course on taxation.
"Talk to several, be prepared and ask questions specific to your business (to which you already know the answer - a little testing never hurt anyone), ask for an estimate of his fees, what he will be doing and what he expects you to be doing for that specific fee, what the turnaround time is (don't expect to come into the office on April 1 with a shopping bag full of unsorted receipts and expect the return to be done by April 15). By the way, 'I don't know (or I am not sure), but I will look it up,' is a perfectly valid answer. So is, 'It depends on your situation, I need to know more about your financial circumstances.'
"What kind of tax planning can he do for you? Ask about pension plans to which you can contribute, (there are more plans available than just IRAs) estimated tax payments, will he do the sales tax returns or will you be doing them.
"And after you are satisfied with all of that, how was the interaction with them, how do you feel about the person? Do you think you can work well together?
"Have fun! It is not as bad, or intimidating, as everyone thinks, and you will save yourselves a lot of time reading tax publications - time which most of you I am sure would prefer to use by taking care of your business."
She ads, you should have a "professional appearance while interviewing the CPA and showing a serious interest in growing the business because the CPA may not accept [you] as a client if he/she thinks [you] will be wasting his time."
Ana's credentials are nothing less than amazing. She has a BBA in Accounting, an MBA in Taxation, CPA for over 40 years, worked in the Corporate tax area for 30 years, had her own practice specializing in individual and small business taxation for 10 years during which she also worked as Adjunct Professor of Accounting at a local college. And is "now happily retired!!! :-) "
So, there you have it! Straight from the CPA's mouth. Go forth and find your CPA today!
Holly Neitzel of Accounting SPOT, LLC, is a work at home mom, living the best of both worlds. She has a BA in Accounting, Masters in Business, and is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She provides accounting and bookkeeping support for micro and small businesses. And she LOVES doing it! Check her out at www.AccountingSPOTonline.com.