If you filed an extension, your deadline for taxes is coming up sooner than you realize. Self-employed individuals or those who faced challenging times may find this overwhelming and start to panic. The best way to handle simple to complex returns is by hiring an accountant in Jamestown, ND. Here are five tips on how to begin that process:
- Know whom to hire: You will hire a certified public accountant (CPA) or an enrolled agent. A CPA must pass state exams and meet education and experience requirements. Like other professionals, CPAs have varying expertise, and you want to find someone who offers that in tax preparation. CPAs can help you with other financial matters, too. An enrolled agent (EA) is an IRS-licensed tax professional, but not a CPA. They may specialize in particular tax areas, so know those specialties before you hire. However, if you go with an EA, you will not be able to hire that person for other matters like estate planning or payroll assistance. If you need a one-stop shop for all financial services, consider a CPA first.
- Know whom to ask: The best way to find a good accountant is through personal referrals. Start with the people you trust first, like friends, family and professional contacts. If you belong to a club or organization, it is likely you know an accountant there, too. Personal connections are a reliable way to find trusted assistance, and CPAs are no exception!
- Know what to read: If you do not have the network for referrals, reading reviews on Yelp or Angie’s List will get you started. While you will always find reviews from people who are never happy about anything, you will still find accountants with consistent good reviews who can help you with your returns. You can also check out the directory with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to find a particular specialty, or the National Association of Enrolled Agents website.
- Know what to verify: You need to be careful whom you hire. There are unethical elements in any profession and CPAs are not an exception. Check their backgrounds at the Better Business Bureau and the state board to see if there are pending disciplinary actions or licensing issues. A clean record often reflects the professionalism of your considered CPA or EA. Also, check preparer tax identification numbers to assure proper licensing and authority, or your tax returns may not be accepted.
- Know your comfort level: A CPA or EA also needs to be a good personality match. If you do not feel comfortable being upfront about your tax issues, find another professional to work with. This is an individual with whom you need to be completely honest and transparent, or your taxes cannot be handled correctly. Ask all the questions you need to in order to get a good feel regarding a CPA before you hire. Any good professional will be patient with this process.
Craig S. Hanson, CPA is an accountant in Jamestown, ND. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation!