Choosing a Tax Preparer for Your SMB

February 5, 2020 | 828 views

Choosing a Tax Preparer for Your SMB
Choosing a Tax Preparer for Your SMB

Are you new to business tax preparation or unhappy with your most recent tax preparer? You are not alone. Businesses change tax preparers for various reasons, but the clock is ticking to complete last year’s tax filing, so choose a CPA or preparer wisely.

Changing CPA’s will mean some readjustment if you’re thinking about a change or need a new person to handle your taxes. Don’t take this lightly. Nearly everyone has a nightmare story about missed deductions, poor communication, or painful audits.

The IRS has its own tips for choosing a tax preparer. They cover things like licensing, fee, and whether the preparer is willing to sign the return and back you up. These seem like fairly obvious services that a CPA would provide. The hard list of capabilities is also easy to ascertain. But if a new tax preparer is needed, carefully consider a few softer characteristics as you choose.

First, ask for referrals. We do this sometimes, but we also assume that everyone meets the IRS list of must-haves. Referrals, however, are king—especially from another business like yours. And get specifics about who will actually do the work. I’ve worked with a reputable and very conservative CPA/tax preparer for years, but at the beginning, our accounts were assigned to a less experienced preparer, and we were finding errors. No one knows your business like you do, so ask for referrals, and if it is someone who understands your type of industry already, that’s even better.

Stay away from the big guys. Unless you are big too. Big CPA firms are geared toward large companies, so they might not value your business as much as the other, larger ones. Avoid being a small fish in a big sea by seeking out local, reputable firms. It will probably save you big bucks, too.

Ask for Negative Reviews. Seriously. Reviews are always kinda strange. You’re only going to get names of those who would give a glowing review, right? But ask your prospective new tax preparer about how they’ve handled errors or intense audits. And then when you do contact reviewers, ask them for something negative, no matter how small. It will give you some insight into what to scrutinize more closely.

Request the Communication You Need. You might want your tax preparer to have a pre-filing meeting with your financial advisor. This is not always easy to pull off, but it is instrumental in determining next year’s plans and their tax treatment. If you want only to drop off tax info and pick up a completed return, your needs and expectations are simpler. Either way, being ready for the next year requires responsive communication.

Tax time doesn’t need to be a terrible, annual journey. Choose a tax preparer to match the needs of your SMB by diligently checking reviews and sharing your expectations.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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