If you have complicated taxes or just hate doing your own taxes, finding a good CPA can be of great help and a lot of stress relief. A good CPA can ensure you get all the points you qualify for and can help you apply for an extension, change, or pay penalties and interest.
Below are some handy tips to find the best CPA near you. Keep reading to learn more.
Make a list of CPAs
Build a list of potential CPAs by asking for referrals and finding from directories. You can ask business associates about the CPAs they work with. The IRS has a directory of qualified PTIN holders available for you to consult. The list includes almost everyone with a PTIN, the list also includes a directory of CPAs, registered agents, and tax attorneys. You can use zip code search to find the ones closest to your location. A PTIN is relatively easy to obtain, so take it a step further and hire an accredited preparer, someone who is also a CPA, Licensed Attorney, EA, Registered Agent, or one who has completed the IRS’s seasonal program for annual tax returns.
You can also check with CPA committees and societies, as many maintain online directories for their members. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants maintains a directory of verified CPAs.
This initial step will reduce half the stress of finding the best CPA near you.
Narrow Down Options from the List
After completing the list, it’s time to narrow it down to those that best fit your tax situation. This seems to be a simple task, it is but requires a little work and focus. You can start by verifying your candidate’s credentials first. If you have obtained the name of the CPAs from the directories, then you may omit this step.
Recommendations from friends may require extra verification with the local state agency or the IRS. Once verified, you may also want to know what others think of that particular CPA. At this point, user ratings come in. It is best to check online reviews on Yelp, Google, or Facebook to see if there are any red flags to look out for. If you see a pattern of complaints, it is better to move on to the next one.
Now, Start Meeting
After checking everyone’s background and references, it’s time to sit down and discuss your needs. Key topics you might discuss with your candidates may include their tax prep experience, availability in case something goes wrong, and their billing. You may ask directly; do you charge at a flat rate or per hour? The answer will help you make the right decision.
Remember to bring a copy of your most recent tax return so you can get an idea of your rates.
This last tip comes in handy if you’re part of a particularly unique industry with complicated tax requirements. Someone who knows your business can advise you better than others.
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