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Hiring a Tax Pro? Ask These 5 Questions

New year, new beginnings. 2022, like the start of every fresh year, is viewed as a chance for people to become their best selves. That manifests itself as New Year’s resolutions – vowing to go to the gym more, be smarter about finances or work toward a new career.

But it’s not just individuals who can benefit. Small business owners can use New Year’s resolutions as an opportunity to take the steps necessary to take their companies to the next level.

What makes a good New Year’s resolution? Ultimately, you want to pledge to do something that’s both achievable and measurable. But resolutions don’t always have to have a granular numerical goal – as long as there’s some way to measure progress, you have something you can both work toward and reach.

The following are five great examples of resolutions that will either benefit you as a small business owner, or your entire company.

Questions to Ask Prospective Tax Professionals

Do you have a PTIN?

The Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a basic necessity for any professional tax preparer. They can’t prepare your return without one. You can also double-check online to see if they’re being truthful using the IRS’s online PTIN directory, but just note: the system only recognizes tax professionals who both have a PTIN and either hold a professional credential or have received an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion from the IRS.

Ultimately, that’s still going to cover the vast majority of tax pros you’re looking for, but it’s still worth noting that a legitimate tax preparer could theoretically slip between these cracks.

What are your qualifications?

There are actually a number of certifications and designations that can show a person is qualified to tackle your tax returns. For instance, there are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) participants, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers and Enrolled Agents (EA), among others.

What’s your experience?

The thing is, each of these designations doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has an extensive background, or primarily practices in taxes. And even if they do, that doesn’t mean they specialize in what exactly you need, tax-wise. That’s why you want to find out how long the tax professional has been practicing, what tax areas they specialize in, and – if you know what forms you’ll need filled out – whether they have experience filling out those tax returns.

What do you charge?

It’s a good bet that whoever prepares your taxes doesn’t have a one-size-fit-all price for all of their tax work. Instead, expect a tax professional to have varying fee structures depending on what you need done. A simple federal file will likely be the cheapest job. Someone with multiple jobs, as well as other complexities that might require additional schedules, will certainly pay more for tax services.

While these fees will differ from one tax preparer to the next, it’s usually a good sign if a tax preparer bases fees on complexity. Preparers who charge based on the size of your refund are waving something of a red flag, as they’re incentivized to cut corners to juice their fees – and could run afoul of the IRS.

Can you provide me with services outside of tax season?

Some individuals and businesses alike just want to send a preparer their records, have their taxes filed for them and be done with it. But others can use more comprehensive tax services across the year, whether that’s simply asking questions about potential tax breaks throughout the year, or something larger, such as drawing up full-year tax plans or retaining someone for potential tax representation in court. If that sounds like you, you want to avoid fly-by-night tax services that only show their face during the first quarter of every year.

These five questions should give you a good idea of whether the prospective tax pro is right for you, though you might want to ask a few more questions to help yourself actually prepare for tax season. For instance: When will I get a copy of my return, what records and documents do you need from me, and what happens in the event of an audit?

Make Sure You Find the Right Fit

If you’re a small business owner and you’re looking for a more hands-on tax preparer this year, reach out to the professionals at McManamon & Co. We’ve been providing small and midsize businesses with tax services – and a host of other duties too, including assurancebusiness valuationsconsulting and more – for years. And we’re ready and excited for another busy tax season.

Don’t just pick any tax preparer – pick one that can best serve your needs. Call us at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today.

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