Three Steps to Finding a Tax Accountant

If you are thinking about hiring a new tax accountant, it will pay to do a little homework now, to ensure you’re finding one that will meet your needs.

As summer is just beginning, most people are not necessarily thinking about their taxes. If you are self-employed or a small business owner I hope you are paying attention though! As I write this, tomorrow, June 15th, the second quarterly tax payment is due! We’re almost half-way through the year!

If you are thinking about hiring a new tax accountant, it will pay to do a little homework now, to ensure you’re finding one that will meet your needs. Here are three things to look for when hiring a new tax pro.

1. Review their qualifications.

Starting with the basics, make sure your tax professional has a prepare tax identification number, or PTIN. This should seem really obvious but you’d be surprised how many so-called professionals don’t follow even the most basic rules. You should steer clear of any tax preparer who doesn’t have that a PTIN or refuses to disclose that to you. It’s also a good idea to get to know the different types of credentials & education requirements tax preparers and accountants may have. For example, a register tax return preparer is required to take an IRS exam and complete 15 hours of continuing education every year. A registered tax return preparer can represent you if you get audited but not in other situations. An Enrolled Agent, EA, can also represent you in any tax matter. Enrolled Agents must pass and IRS exam and completes at least 72 hours of continuing education every three years. They also have unlimited rights to represent tax payers in all 50 states. If you’re looking for a CPA or tax attorney, they also are subject to different certification standards based on your state law.

2. Check into the person’s history.

Just because they have professional qualifications doesn’t automatically make them best for the job. The IRS recommends you look at the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints been lodged against those individuals. You should also find out if they’ve been subject any disciplinary actions and if their license is up-to-date. Reviews referrals and websites like Google, Facebook, Yelp. These can be great sources to find word-of-mouth recommendations.

3. Ask about the fees.

Make sure you understand what they charge, how they charge and if there is any contingencies associated with that. It’s best to not be surprised at tax time when they send you their bill. With the tax cuts and jobs act, a lot of individuals will find themselves taking the standard deduction compared to the previous tax year where they may have itemized. This should have an impact on your tax preparation fees. Understanding the complexity of your tax return can also help you understand whether or not the fee is appropriate for you. I would anticipate at least $150/hour for good business bookkeeping & tax preparation.

Bottom line? Find somebody that you like and who will work with you. I personally like a tax professional who is proactive in planning with me so that I may maximize my business income and reduce my tax liabilities. Don’t know where to start? Check out our ever-growing group of tax professionals!

About the Author

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Joseph A. Davis, EA, CDFA®BFA™


With over 16 years in the financial services industry, Joe knows his stuff. Cursed with the desire to be a serial entrepreneur - Joe is a real estate investor & managing partner for Davis Financial LLC, Utah Divorce Services and Davis Tax & Associates. He most recently became the director for Find a CPA Today. Joe is an Enrolled Agent, EA, & CDFA®, BFA™. He also holds FINRA licenses 7, 66 & 24. When Joe isn't trading, looking for new real estate investments or obsessing over his work - you can find him at home, playing with his children & probably mowing his lawn.

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