How to Find the Best CPA or Tax Accountant Near You
Written by Ahad&Co
Having a CPA or tax accountant can be tedious, especially when you have no idea how to find the best CPA or tax accountant near you.
But don’t worry – if you find yourself wanting to know how to find an accountant with good reviews who can prepare your returns and do it right for the first time without making mistakes then we’ve got just what will help!
Let’s dive right in!
Be careful when hiring a CPA or Tax Accountant near you
You must be very careful before hiring a CPA or tax accountant. Why? The I.R.S has a list of dirty dozen tax scams every year. The CPA is always on the lookout for new tax schemes that may be tempting to you, but be very careful before choosing them blindly! These scams can leave you out hundreds or thousands in misspent funds.
When it comes to taxes and accounting, there is a lot of information that can be very confusing. You don’t want the hassle but at the same time need someone who will do the job honestly. But where do you find such dedicated professionals? Let us walk you through some steps on how you will find qualified tax accountants or CPAs near you.
Here are 3 simplified steps and recommendations that you may follow.
Step 1: Compile a list of potential CPAs and tax accountants of your town.
If you want to find the best accountant in town, ask around.
Ask people you know for recommendations.
The easiest way is to ask around. Ask people in your town for recommendations.
CPA in NYC Mr Ahad Ali says that most of his business comes from these sources.
“Check with family, friends, and business associates to find out who they use,” Mr Ali says, “find out who they take service from and whether the company they recommend has a good reputation. Check their credibility.”
According to Mr Ali, CPAs and tax accountants are often the go-to professionals for particular specialities. They can work with small-business owners, high-net-worth individuals (HNI), and clients who work in certain industries. He recommends asking people with similar interests as they may know the market. According to him, “if you’re a cryptocurrency trader, ask other crypto traders to know who they use for their work. Perhaps they’ll be useful to you too.”
The I.R.S.’s directory is a good place
Every paid tax preparer needs a PTIN or Preparer Tax Identification Number.
The PTIN is an important stamp of approval, but it’s not enough to guarantee skill or experience.
The IRS provides a directory of PTIN holders to help you find qualified tax professionals near your area. You can search by zip code and learn more about each individual’s qualifications before setting up an appointment or making any decisions regarding their services!
Free tax-preparation providers.
These IRS-approved programs offer free basic tax preparation services to qualifying Americans. Find your nearest provider using the VITA/TCE Locator Tool!
When searching for VITA or TCE sites, it is important to consider the time of year. Sites may not appear in your search results until three weeks before their scheduled opening.
Once you find a location, check their list of requirements before scheduling a tax appointment.
Check with your state’s or national association.
Many state boards of accountancy and CPA societies maintain online directories that list their members. You may need to do some online research and call to see whether the people on your list provide tax services.
If you need a CPA, the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) has an excellent directory. It’s extremely efficient as you can search by filtering according to location and specialization!
Step 2: Find the right options for you
Now that you’ve made a list of potential tax accountants near you, it is important to find the right person. Here’s how to choose them:
Check their credentials.
If the CPA’s name is listed on the website of the I.R.S., your state board of accountancy, a state CPA society, or the NAEA, they are most likely legitimate. But if you receive their information from someone else, it is wise to verify whether they hold these certifications that they claim to have.
CPA Verify is a great tool for those who want to make sure that their tax accountant has the proper qualifications. Search at cpaverify.org or go straight through your state’s board of accountancy website and find out whether they have a proper license!
Consider online reviews.
After you’ve found a potential CPA or tax preparer, learn what others say about them. Are others satisfied with their services? Take the time to read their social media accounts and review sites like Yelp, Google Maps, Thumbtack, etc. before taking their services!
Researching them and uncovering red flags can help protect your business from a bad fit and save millions of bucks.
Make sure they E-File.
Also, make sure the CPA has experience working electronically and is able to provide e-filing services. The IRS requires that all preparers who file 11 or more returns per year provide e-filing services.
Check if your advisor would have your back.
Make sure that the CPAs you hire are willing to help you or give you advice even when it’s not tax season. They should come in handy even after you’re done filing the return.
Schedule an appointment.
Now that you’re done making a list of all possible prospects, it’s best to schedule the appointment as soon as you can. Waiting too long may unnecessarily complicate the whole process.
Step 3: Speak with your prospective CPA.
When you speak with a potential tax accountant, show him your most recent tax return. Reviewing your latest tax return is a good way to evaluate your situation! It can give you an idea of how much they might charge and whether there’s anything that needs to be fixed.
It is important to update your tax accountants about any significant life changes you have made recently. This includes things like getting married (or divorcing), investing in rental property, or even starting a business.
Here are the possible questions that you may ask your CPA to determine if he or she is the right fit for you:
How long have you been preparing taxes?
If your return is relatively simple, someone with just a couple of years under his belt should be capable of handling it. But if the IRS has troubled you in the past or if you’ve experienced complicated returns then maybe an experienced tax accountant could help out.
A good rule: The longer an individual’s tax career i.e. say in the case of two individuals where one has more than 5 years experience and the other has less than 1 year, it’s best to choose the former as they can tackle complicated issues more skilfully.
What are your specialities?
Knowing specialities is important because it lets you understand whether the CPA specializes in helping people like yourself. For example, if you have a small business or rental property, make sure they have worked with clients who had similar requirements!
You want a professional with experience and expertise, not just anyone who claims he can help!
How do you bill for your services?
The accountant should be able to give you an estimation of the cost once they know what services you require from them. Accountants may charge a flat fee or an hourly rate, but it’s important for them to understand how much time the whole process will take.
Are you available for questions outside of tax season?
Some tax preparers set up their service during the tax season and disappear shortly after April 15th. Don’t hire a tax preparer who is available only in the tax season. Rather, make sure you find someone who can help you round the year!
Who will prepare my return?
If the accountant is part of a firm, the person you meet with might not be the one who prepares your return. They may hand it off to a less-experienced associate and merely review the work afterwards. While this can help keep your costs low, it’s good to know who’s actually doing the work. Because sometimes, they may make mistakes which might be too costly for you in the future. Better safe than sorry!
Bonus step: Get a tax accountant in other areas
There are many people who don’t like to share their personal financial information with a tax preparer in the town they live in. Mr Ali has worked with many clients who are located in another city or state.
“You can be in any city and still maintain your communication with a tax accountant,” said Mr Ali.
You are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your tax return. Never sign a tax return form before checking its contents and making sure that the process has been done perfectly.
Hiring a reputable tax professional should be at the top of your priority list for this year’s filing. Review their work carefully and make sure it aligns with exactly what you need. Because time spent now could save money later–or even more!