How to Choose a CPA Accountant
There are many things in life that you should not take the easy way out and try to save a few bucks. Insurance, wills, and handling your financial affairs are all important things that affect you and your family financially. Many people think of a CPA as just a person that does taxes. While this may be true, many also can do other important tasks such as estate and financial planning.
Before grabbing the phone book and just randomly picking a name to handle your financial affairs, there are questions to ask your prospective CPA. Hiring an accountant or financial planner is a big decision that should be researched thoroughly. The first thing to do with any professional is to check for the appropriate licenses. Asking them is a good start, but to get concrete evidence many states have begun to offer websites for checking licences online.
Next, you should ask the CPA what their background is and their field of expertise. There are many areas of tax and finance and each professional may or may not have the specific background that you are looking for. Do not be afraid to talk to them before hiring them. Many are even happy that you will have all these questions to ask. A good tax pro likes clients that are informed and can provide valuable feedback.
Another step in hiring an accountant is talking price and the length of contract. Some people may only need one tax return done, but others may be looking for a long term bookkeeper, financial planner, or have another need. Transparency is the key and be sure to get all the details in writing. Besides for checking licences, ask for some references and be sure to call them to get more feedback about the person.
While most CPA's are quality and upstanding individuals, there are always some unethical ones out there. Be very cautious when one will guarantee you a huge refund or if say they have creative accounting. These are the kind of people that could possibly commit fraud.
One misconception about hiring a CPA is that they become liable for your return and if it is wrong you are not liable. This is false. You and the accountant are liable. In a recent court case Wesley Snipes was sentenced to roughly 3 years for tax evasion. He claimed he knew nothing and the tax professional did it all.
The law clearly states this is not a defense and each individual or business is fully responsible for their return. His guilty verdict should be a warning to the individuals out there looking to protect their large sums of money by doing stuff that is wrong. The safest and legal way to do this would be to hire someone with the utmost honor and ethics.
If you are unsure about a preparer, contact your accountancy board and see if the person is in good standing. Generally, there are many great pros out there in your area that can handle all your financial needs. Just do your research and double check things to be safe.