Let’s just face facts. Taxes are an inevitable thing. What do they say? There are two things certain in life. Death and taxes. Dealing with these certainties is inevitable.
I tell all my friends and family to hire a professional and reputable CPA to assist them with their taxes. Even if it isn’t our firm. I say to them: “I don’t care. Don’t hire L&A. Hire some one else. As long as they are reputable.” Why do I say this? Because one mistake, one omission, one overlook can lead to real trouble in life. We know this because we are constantly correcting the mistakes of others. So how do you find a solid professional you can trust with your taxes? Here are 4 things to look for in a good CPA.
Transparency. This is one thing we as a firm are working on. I find we make the mistake of wanting to please everyone all the time so we are not entirely transparent about certain items that can wind up causing frustrations. For example, we are currently running a longer turnaround time than normal. Instead of telling everyone that walks in we just proceed onward. Taxes can involve a lot of tough love. There can be situations that arise in which you need your accountant to be transparent and give it to you straight. It may not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth and the truth is always better than a load of candy coated nonsense.
Reputable. You want your accountant to be reputable. I often turn to the world wide web when considering many of my product or service purchasing decisions and check reviews. I also ask around to trusted friends, family, neighbors and co-workers and see if I can find someone that way. If you start to notice recurring themes in either reviews or through asking around of a good reputation, than you may have found your guy or gal to handle your taxes.
Trustworthy. Is this accountant someone you can trust? After all, you are entrusting your accountant with some of the most financially sensitive material and documents. So if you walk into a dungeon in the middle of a terrible neighborhood that’s charging $45 for a return with a bunch of sleazy people around, chances are nothing good is going to come of this. Maybe you’ll have your identity stolen, become a victim of fraud or whoever knows what. Look for signs of trustworthiness.
Relatable. This is perhaps the most important quality to look for. Can your accountant relate to you? Can you relate to your accountant? When you communicate with him, does he or she understand you as a person? I would even go as far to say, is this a person you’d invite to have a beer or a lunch or a coffee with you? You should get along well with your accountant. He or she should be a relatable person and share common values and interests. This helps build that level of trust required for this professional relationship.
Now, I warn you that many people will allow there expectations to become a tad unrealistic too. They expect to be able to drop off a return and have it done in 30 minutes in the height of tax season, or call up at 12am to chat about a distribution, or call on April 15th and receive a call back same day, or sit with an accountant for an hour and not pay for the time. I assure you CPAs that have these qualities will likely be very busy and essentially have to complete an entire years work in 10 weeks time (duration of tax season). So understand if it takes your accountant a while to get back to you or your return takes longer than expected to get filed or your accountant can’t sit with you for 2 hours on April 14th. They likely have your best interest at heart and want to make sure they do right by you.
Another point that should be made is in this industry, you very much so get what you pay for. It’s like anything else. There are bad tax prep services and there are good tax prep services. We discussed McDonald’s vs. Ruth’s Chris in the past.Find a good CPA. Hire a professional. Again, even if it’s not us.