We know having a great CPA is an indispensable part of team every doctor needs. A logical follow-up question is how to pick that great CPA
in such a crowded field. This is important for several reasons in addition to the savings a great CPA will help you realize, not the least of which is the fact that even if you have your taxes professionally prepared, you the taxpayer are legally responsible for the accuracy of the return.
As always a great place to start you inquiry on any tax matter is by looking at what the IRS itself says.The suggestions below come from the IRS’s own consumer advisory:
Verify their qualifications
Are they affiliated with or licensed by a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education, oversight and which holds them to a code of ethics? You'd be surprised to learn that not all tax preparers require a license to practice accounting. Current regulations require that all CPAs maintain continuing education credits, adhere to certain rules of ethical conduct have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) before preparing any federal tax returns.
Check on the CPA's history
Check to see if the preparer has a questionable history with the Better Business Bureau and check for any disciplinary actions and licensure status through the state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants. If they are not a CPA, these options to check their history are most likely not available
Ask how they charge and calculate fees
Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
Make sure you can reach them for future support
Make sure you will be able to contact any CPA after the return has been filed, some CPA's close up shop after tax season is over.
Provide all records and receipts needed to prepare your return.
Most reputable CPA's will request to see your records and receipts and will ask you multiple questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for expenses, deductions and other items.
Don’t sign blank returns.
Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.
Review the whole return before signing it
Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it. Your signature is your confirming that it is both true and correct.
The CPA must also sign the form and include their PTIN
A paid preparer must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law.
In addition to these guidelines, here are a few more:
1. Don’t just rely on Google reviews. Speak with current customers that the CPA has cleared you to contact and ask questions, like do they return calls or emails promptly. Have there been any payment disputes with their CPA? Are they happy with the service they receive? Have they referred any customers to their CPA?
2. Ask if they have experience with clients at your personal income level and at the gross revenue level of your practice if you are looking at the same provider for both.
3. Ask if they have knowledge of any industry specific issues that affect your business or for examples of places they have found opportunities for savings and improvement with others.
We hope this checklist helps you make a good decision when choosing your CPA firm.