When you are working with an accountant to do your taxes you are really hiring them to complete a service. This means that you have the opportunity, and should take advantage of, the chance to ask at least a few basic interview questions.
Meeting in advance of tax time, or in advance of doing any investments or financial planning, will give you the time you need to interview and talk with a couple of accountants you have researched in advance. Getting referrals from friends, family members and other professionals is also a great way to narrow down your choices.
Important questions to ask and get answers to include:
- How long have you been an accountant and what are your credentials?
- What type of financial planning services, investment advice and financial guidance can you offer and what is your experience level in this aspect of accounting?
- What are your fees, how are they calculated and what payment methods do you accept?
- Do you use any third party professionals for your work or do you outsource anything to other accounting or financial companies, planners, etc.? If so, how do you evaluate their services and what standards do you require in these professionals?
- What are your hours and how long does it take to get an appointment to meet with you in person?
- What continuing education programs do you attend and do you belong to any professional associations, groups or organizations?
- Can you provide me with a list of names of clients that would be references for your services that are similar to my situation?
- Will the accounting software that I use in my business or for my personal accounts be compatible with the software that you use?
Whether you are a small business owner or need an accountant to handle your personal taxes and financial planning, getting the best professional possible is a critical decision. Take your time and interview a few accountants until you find the right match for your needs.