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Hiring a Tax Professional: What Your Small Business Should Look For

Is your small business in the market for a tax professional?

We recently discussed the best ways to protect yourself from tax scams. Among them? Hire a tax professional, sure, but also really dig in when you’re researching them.

Tax pros are good for more than just protecting you from fraudsters. They offer expertise that your small team simply might not have yet. They help you save precious hours that entrepreneurs can better spend on growing their business. And they’re typically better trained to not just prepare your current year’s taxes, but put you in position to reap significant tax deductions, credits and other breaks in the coming year.

So, what exactly should your small business look for when hiring a tax professional? Here’s our short list:

They’re qualified.

If nothing else, getting qualifications helps weed out potential scammers and ensures that, at a minimum, you’re working with a legitimate tax pro. The IRS suggests that people check out the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications, which can help you find a tax preparer that has whatever qualifications you’re looking for. The Better Business Bureau can also help you with information about tax preparers, and the State Board of Accountancy can provide you additional info on CPAs. Registered tax preparers should also have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

They’re up-to-date.

It’s rare that Congress passes a massive tax overhaul such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which shook up taxes for almost every American individual and business alike. That said, tax laws are a little bit more fluid on the state and local levels, not to mention business taxes laws are far more complicated than they are for individuals, so you want to make sure that your tax preparer is well aware of any recently passed laws or other changes to the tax code. Being behind not only means missing out on certain credits or deductions, but also possibly running afoul of the Internal Revenue Services and prompting an IRS audit.

They’re well thought of.

Ideally, a tax preparer has impressed other people with their work. Personal referrals can be a decent sign that a tax pro might be a good fit – but you simply might not know anyone that uses a small-biz tax specialist. Barring that, you can seek out online reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings or referrals from professional agencies.

They’re engaged and engaging.

How your initial conversation with a potential tax preparer goes will likely reflect on the service you eventually receive. If the discussion feels like a 15-minute pitch meant to seal the deal, it’s likely you’re dealing with a business that’s trying to make money on volume – which can result in impersonal service and a rushed job. Instead, you want your conversation to go like an ideal job interview: one where both sides are trying to get to know one another well. If a tax pro is spending time trying to understand what it is you do and what your needs are, and is open about answering all your questions, chances are you have an engaged tax preparer that will serve you well once it’s time to get to work. (Not sure what to ask? The National Society of Accountants has a great list of questions to start with.)

They have small business experience.

You’re a small business. It’s only logical, then, that you want a tax preparer with experience in small business taxes.

Yes, personal tax preparers are plenty capable of learning the ropes, and accountants who work with large corporations will be familiar with some of the rules and regulations that affect all businesses. But if you’re paying for a specialized job, you want to pay a specialist who can do the most effective work for the cost.

McManamon & Co. has long been serving small and midsize businesses with tax services – and a host of other duties too, including assurance, business valuations, consulting and more. We’re ready to take this tax season head-on, which starts with meeting you to discuss who you are, what you need and how you can benefit from an experienced hand.

Don’t just pick any tax preparer – pick the right one. Call us at 440.892.9088 or contact us online today.



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