What to Know Before Hiring an Accountant


If you’re ready to hire an accountant for personal finances or business purposes, there are a few things you should know. While using a do-it-yourself service is good for daily monitoring, hiring professionals will help you avoid landing in hot water with the IRS. Professional accounting services handle a host of financial issues, and give you the chance to build a relationship with experts that can help you in a variety of monetary situations in the future.

Understanding is Important

Don’t work with an accountant who doesn’t explain your finances in layman’s terms. If you leave an accounting session and you’re scratching your head in confusion, then they didn’t help you. Find an accountant who will take the time to help you understand your money, the terms involved with the accounting process, and the steps necessary to keep you on the right side of the IRS.

What Are You Looking to Gain?

Understand which services you’re looking to utilize. Are you looking for assistance with a new business plan? Do you need someone to help you flesh out estate planning or advise you on business insurance options? Knowing what you need will help you accurately assess potential accountants, and also highlight the financial tasks you may be able to handle yourself—a huge money-saver should your accountant charge by the hour.

Do They Use a Third Party?

Some accountants will outsource the work to a third party, and it doesn’t hurt to ask your potential accounting candidates whether this is the case. It’s a common practice, and it doesn’t necessarily mean your finances won’t be done well, but it could make it harder for you to regularly communicate with the person handling your finances.

Know Your Accountant’s Rates

Accounting services run the gamut in terms of price. Ask about rates, and get a quote estimate before you commit to using an individual or company. Some accountants charge a flat fee, and others charge by the hour. Determine which would work better for your business and set a budget before you go in.

Should You Hire a CPA?

Choosing an accountant is a tough task, and there are many things to take into account—no pun intended. Do you want to hire a certified public accountant, or CPA, as they have higher levels of certification? Or would you prefer to use the services of someone who has basic qualifications and will most likely charge less? If you’re looking for in-depth services for a long period of time, a CPA is probably the better bet. They have a wider range of knowledge on a broad assortment of accounting and tax issues, and they’ve received more comprehensive certifications.  If you ultimately decide to hire a financial advisor, make sure you choose the right one.

Give It Time

Don’t hire the first accountant you meet with just because you want to get it over with. This is your money and your future, so take the necessary time to make the right choice. Schedule interviews with several accountants to determine the qualities you like best, and ask around for referrals from family and friends. If a loved one is happy enough with the service to recommend it, you’re likely in good financial hands. Have a list of questions prepared, and determine the accountant’s availability so you understand how often you’ll be able to communicate with them.

Accounting At-Home

If you’d like the convenience of handling your taxes and financial responsibilities within your home, using an accounting service through a website like www.communitytax.com is a good alternative. With a list of services including tax return preparation, tax resolution, and bookkeeping programs, it’s basically a one-stop shop for tax necessities. Your finances are still handled by licensed CPAs, and you can provide everything they need from your couch. Another great benefit of using a site like this means no hidden fees, and you can get a free consultation immediately.

Don’t Ignore Your Finances

Even though you’re paying someone to handle some of your finances, don’t think you can check out. You are just as responsible for tracking your wealth and monetary changes, so don’t place sole responsibility of your money on the shoulders of an accounting company.  There are plenty of easy, convenient ways for you to stay involved in your finances.

Hiring an accountant is a big step for any individual or business, and can help you plan your finances and business ventures for years to come. Get the most out of your tax expenditures and head to local events and venues funded by taxpayers’ dollars. You’ll feel a little bit better about the money you put out if you can see that it goes to something you and your community can enjoy. With the help of a professional, you may receive a larger return, and in turn increase your personal wealth and the success of your business.

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