As the end of January approaches, professionals across the country are starting to prepare for the upcoming tax deadline. Tax season can be a stressful time, and this is especially true for small business owners, IT professionals, doctors, dentists, government contractors, and self-employed individuals.
Given that independent professionals generally have a more complicated tax situation than the average salaried employee, it is usually a good idea to employ the services of a professional accounting and financial advisor or firm.
By doing so, those professionals can gain insight into ways they can employ more effective tax-efficient strategies. They can also consult on matters of financial planning, as well as receive advice on matters related to business accounting, debt counseling, bookkeeping or retirement planning.
Read on below for three important tips for choosing the right accounting or financial advisory firm for you and your business.
1. Don’t Do Your Own Taxes
While individuals might be able to get away with doing their own taxes without taking too significant a risk, you should always find an experienced tax professional if you are anything other than a very small business. The potential downside of doing your own business taxes is simply too large to ignore.
The best strategy is to find the most experienced tax professional possible, and these are typically Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Becoming a CPA is tough work and requires a great deal of experience and education, and thus are the gold standard to aim for.
Otherwise you might engage the services of what are called Enrolled Agents. These are professionals that are recognized by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to represent taxpayers in some cases. All Enrolled Agents are required to pass a three-part test to be certified.
Besides doing your own taxes, the worst option for medium or larger-sized businesses are usually mass-production tax services, the ones you might find in a shopping mall or kiosk. Avoid those.
2. Aim For Experience
As mentioned above, a CPA is your best bet to do your taxes. However, not all CPAs are the same. An ideal tax advisor will have both a great education and good experience working in the field.
A clue that your CPA is top-notch would be A) a degree from a top-university, and B) experience working for a notable accounting firm such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, or another similarly reputable company. With these kind of bona fides, you’ll be much more likely to find yourself with greater tax savings over the long term.
3. Build a Relationship
One of the reasons finding the right tax advisor is so important is that, once done, the relationship can follow you throughout the life of your business. Not only will your ideal tax or financial advisor provide you with the best advice for each year’s tax requirements, they’ll also spend time building a plan over the course of your relationship that helps guide you over the coming decades.
Another tip: when interviewing different advisors, look for ones that ask you great questions, not the other way around. After all, the more they know about you, the better they can do their job.
A great advisor is also one that is creative, one that will use the law to your advantage, and that has a track record of developing a lifelong strategy for his or her clients. Your ultimate goal should be to find an advisor that is interested not only in explaining solutions, but who wants to educate and inform you so that you can avoid problems down the road.
TPI: The Group You Can Trust
No matter what the nature of your business, TPI Group are the specialists you’ll want handling your financial information. Their small team has nearly 100 years of work experience among them, and they specialize in two areas.
The first is Tax and Accounting, which includes personal taxes, corporate and business taxes, accounting services, bookkeeping and payroll for small businesses, and audit resolutions. The second is Financial Services, which includes retirement or estate planning, portfolio analysis, risk management and business consulting.
Not sure what TPI Group can do for you? Contact them anytime for a consultation! And of course, don’t forget: the last date to file a business return is on March 15th, one month before the due date for personal returns, which is April 15th.