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How Do I Choose the Best CPA?

Article Details
  • Written By: Geri Terzo
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Hiring the right certified public accountant (CPA) can begin a relationship that can last a lifetime. Inevitably, tax filing requirements emerge every year. A CPA can make the process less daunting and also uncover tax breaks and incentives in your personal financial situation. Word of mouth is certainly one way to find the best accountant in addition to visiting or contacting an accounting firm. Sometimes, a professional accountant with a corporation may also provide personal tax assistance to individuals on an ad hoc basis.

Hiring a CPA is not an event that is limited to tax time each year. Individuals and businesses may need help with certain accounting functions, and a certified accountant is equipped to help. A CPA may also be able to assist with financial planning and help both individuals and businesses with preparing for or responding to an audit. It is up to the individual or business to decide if it is necessary to turn to an accounting firm or if one individual accounting professional can handle the client's needs.

You will probably have a certain expectation in hiring a CPA. For instance, you may be looking for someone who makes house visits or at the very least can make time to meet in an office. Certain professionals may have such busy schedules that the preferred method of communication is over the telephone or through e-mail. Make sure that you and the CPA agree on how you will communicate.

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The best accountant will be available for support throughout the year. Different accounting situations may arise, and sometimes it requires the input of a professional to sort through the process. Interview potential CPAs to learn about how accessible the professional would be to make sure the accountant has time for you. Learn how the candidate may have unearthed potential issues with other clients and may have prevented any financial hardship to someone else. Ask for referrals unless the candidate who is being considered was a recommendation from a family member, friend, or colleague.

A CPA may charge by the hour or offer a flat rate to clients. Find out what the fee structure is like, and consider how often you will be calling on this professional. Even if you have to pay a slightly higher fee for the accountant you prefer, it may be worth it if there is trust given the personal financial information that will be provided to this professional.

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