After a full recovery from the financial and physical activities of the holidays, professionals and businesses should prepare for April 15. It’s tax season again and how one views this annual sales tax audit activity depends on one’s stage in life and filing level. For those who are young and don’t need to itemize, this activity is viewed as nothing more than an obligation to the IRS. But once there is a change in marital status, property purchases, multiple sources of income or additional dependents, then tax preparation and planning can be a huge task to tackle. This activity can be intimidating especially for those who first-timers. With a good tax consultant or tax accountant, one can relax and not worry about those nitty-gritty details. The key here is having a good relationship with the tax consultant. With a bit of research, getting to the right certified public accountant (CPA) handling taxes as well can be easy.
Asking The Right Person
First step is to ask from among friends and relatives who have some experience on this activity. Appearances are deceiving. Friends and relatives who appear prosperous are not necessarily the ones who have the best tax consultant. However, those who have several properties or own some business may have someone whom they count on to do their tax statements. These people obviously would recommend someone. Another source is asking a financial officer or a CPA in the workplace. They may have colleagues that do tax consulting. The last resort would be the Yellow Pages or make a search using the internet for firms who offer tax planning and preparation in the locality.
Deciding Which Tax Consultant
After making a shortlist for tax accountants, the next thing is to conduct research on the candidates. Make an appointment to visit their offices. This might be a tedious step but remember the tax consultant will be privy to highly confidential financial information. Before deciding which one, the experience and credentials of the chosen one should be established. Look for a person that a basic rapport can be established. It is easy to develop trust with someone that one feels comfortable with. Consider the following questions:
• Do they have a clean and orderly office? Will your documents be safe in their office?
• Do you feel comfortable with the tax consultant? Is he or she a person you would like see several times a year?
• Do you perceive professionalism not only with the person you are dealing with but with the other staff in their office? If the answer is yes then perhaps you can stop looking now.
Just like when one is looking for an employee, getting a tax consultant or tax accountant should have some minimum requirements. Some recommended items to look for in the credentials:
• Degree in Accounting or Accountancy
• Certified state accountant
• Certification as an Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) or Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA)
• A client listing containing years of service to the client is a validation of experience
A step further is to check with the National Society of Accountants. Membership is such an authority group is a sign of professionalism. The Better Business Bureau can also be a source of information to find out if there have been complaints on the person or firm.