Whether you’re hiring a CPA for the first time, or you’re looking to make a change from your current tax professional, it’s important to find the right professional for your tax needs. Ask your potential new CPA the following questions to make sure you are both on the same page in terms of the service you should expect as a client, and what the CPA needs from you to provide that service most effectively.
Questions to ask your CPA
|Questions to ask your CPA||Answers From Lake Financial Services...|
|What type of clients do you work with?||Lake Financial Services specializes in individual professionals, as well as small businesses and home offices. We are experienced in tax issues affecting individuals with rental properties and contractors.|
|Are you available year-round?||Yes|
|Have you worked with the IRS?||Yes, for 25 years and counting.|
|Who does the work?||My staff and I work as a team, but nothing gets sent to a client until I have reviewed it.|
|Do You Have A conservative or aggressive tax approach?||There are some parts of the tax code that are black and white, and others that are shades of gray depending on the individual’s situation. If a client prefers to be very conservative, Lake Financial Services, of course, can tailor our services to the client’s wishes. However, we do also have the expertise to handle more complex situations or aggressive strategies.|
|How do you bill for your services?||We bill by the hour, and provide an invoice when services are complete.
A lot of the big box guys and even some small shops bill by the form--often, clients that have worked with those kinds of shops find they save money with my approach.
|Do you work with clients who have multiple businesses or activities?||Yes--all day, every day. I like to say the complex is normal to me. Clients with multiple businesses need a tax professional like Lake Financial Services that can explain the ramifications of each part as it relates to the whole.|
Do you have other clients like me?
Just as a doctor may be a general practitioner, a surgeon, or a podiatrist, CPAs have areas of specialization. If your situation is complex, you may need a specialist!
Are you available year-round?
Some accountants only work during tax season. If you pay quarterly taxes, or you want a more hands-on approach to tax planning for the following year, you may want access to someone who is full time.
Have you worked with the IRS?
The correct answer is: Yes!
Who does the work? Is all the work reviewed?
Remember that more experienced CPAs come with a much larger hourly price tag. In most cases, it is more cost-effective for the client to have work completed by more junior staff and reviewed by an expert.
Is the CPA conservative?
No, we’re not talking about politics. Do you want your CPA to advise you conservatively or aggressively? That is—would you rather withhold more than is likely needed (and receive a refund at tax time) or withhold less (and possibly have to pay a tax bill)? There are pros and cons to each approach. It feels good to get money at tax time…but in reality, you have lent money to the IRS interest-free all year, so they are simply returning money that is already yours (and worth less than it was when you earned it due to the effect of inflation). An aggressive strategy gives you more month to month budget flexibility and is more beneficial from an opportunity cost standpoint (you could invest the money rather than have it lose value to inflation). But you MUST have cash reserves (emergency savings) to cover any shortfall in your expected vs. actual tax bill.
How do you bill for your services?
For convenience, some CPAs offer the option to deduct their fees from your tax refund. Others bill directly. Talk to your potential CPA about which option you prefer.
Do you work with clients who have multiple businesses and/or activities?
Of course, this would make your tax situation more complicated. Make sure you are working with someone who is already experienced in situations like yours.
Want to make a change?
Lake Financial Services works with individuals and small businesses, with special expertise in contractors and people with complex situations, such as multiple business activities. If it sounds like we could help you with your situation, give us a call at 203-634-7549 to ask any questions you may have or use our contact form and we will get in touch with you..