Follow These Tips to Get Your Money’s Worth From Your CPA
By Alan Olsen
What’s the number one question you would ask an accountant if you ended up having a conversation with one? Can I deduct my pet food from my taxes? Will the IRS come after me if I don’t report “all” of my earnings? What’s the best way to filter money overseas? Is an audit the scariest thing a person will ever go through? All interesting questions for an accountant, but in reality, most people probably want to know how much the accountant they’re speaking with would charge to do their taxes. It’s an obvious question, but it’s one that is not always easy to answer. That’s because everyone’s tax situation is different. So the short answer is it all depends.
Quality Over Quantity
The fact is some people’s tax situation might cost $50 or less if they don’t have many forms to fill out and the accountant only has to spend a few minutes filing their return. On the other hand, some people have such complicated tax situations that they can end up spending thousands or even tens of thousands for their return. Cost is always important, but the real key is to find an accountant that will do your taxes right and get you the most out of your return as possible. Because CPAs understand the tax system, they can use their knowledge and experience to analyze your situation and achieve the greatest savings. Still, everyone wants to save money, so here are some tips to help you get the most out of hiring a CPA.
Create a Lasting Relationship
One of the best things you can do is to find an accountant you like and then stick with him or her. This has many advantages, including working with someone who knows and understands your tax situation and how to maximize your return each year. He or she can also help you plan ahead for each coming year, and they can catch mistakes easier because they already have an understanding of your tax picture.
Many accountants charge by the hour, so one way to save yourself some cash is to be organized. If you throw a pile of miss-sorted paperwork on the CPA’s desk and expect him or her to have your return done in an hour, think again. Gathering and organizing all your relevant documents will assist your accountant in getting the work done faster and thus save you more money.
Always Ask Questions
If you trust your CPA, then don’t be afraid to ask him or her questions, as well as for his or her advice. Don’t make any major tax decisions without first consulting with your accountant. This can help you avoid costly mistakes that you might have otherwise missed.
Always Be Honest
One of the best ways to save money, as well as save on your taxes is by always being honest with your CPA. Your information is confidential so even though some of it might be embarrassing, you should still share any information pertinent to your taxes, with your accountant, including gambling losses or personal medical expenses. These all have the potential to affect your refund.