Tax season may be behind you for 2020, but it is never too early to start preparing for 2021, especially if your head is still swimming from this year. Doing your own taxes as an entrepreneur is no easy task. One way to make the process smoother for yourself next year is to look at hiring a bookkeeper who can keep your books in tip-top shape all year long or by hiring an accountant to streamline your tax filing process.
If you opt for an accountant, here are some tips on what to look for.
1. Verify Credentials
It’s important that the accountant you select is qualified to handle your taxes and has the proper certifications. A certified public accountant (CPA) is an accountant who has passed the CPA exam and is licensed in one or more states. A reliable CPA can act as an adviser on a wide range of financial matters, including tax preparation, auditing services, and advice on developing effective accounting systems.
Once you have a short-list of possible accountants to consider, run their names through a CPA verification service to confirm they are qualified to provide financial advice in your state.
2. Check for Industry Expertise
Most accountants will have biographies online that outline their education and experience. Look for an accountant that has experience in your specific industry. Working with someone who already knows the ins and outs of your type of business will make the tax planning and filing process much more efficient. Look for an expanded CPA search service in your state to find accountants only in your industry.
3. Look for Tax Planning Specialty
In order to truly get your money’s worth from an accountant, you should look for one that has tax planning experience. A good CPA should do more than simply file your taxes; he or she should be able to conduct ongoing strategic planning that includes advising you on how to structure your business in order to reduce your tax burden and ultimately increase the business’s profit.
4. Coordinate Logistics
Some small business owners would prefer to find an accountant near them, but with technology, this isn’t necessary. You can work with an accountant without regular in-person meetings because you can meet via video calls, share files via the Cloud, and coordinate plans via online collaboration tools. Of course, you can still choose a local accountant, but make sure you take into consideration the logistics and time investment travel takes.
5. Use Referrals and Get References
As you start your search for a CPA, ask colleagues and clients for recommendations. Exploring someone who is recommended is always a great place to start. If you aren’t able to get any viable recommendations, try using a CPA service to narrow down your search. Once you have a few possible accountants lined up, make sure you ask for and check references to validate performance.
Once you have the right accountant on your team, you will not only be able to streamline your tax filing process, but you will also be able to develop an ongoing strategy that will help you improve your business over time.