Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Tax Accountant in Irvine, California
A qualified accountant is important for individuals and small and big businesses alike, which is why Masler & Associates, CPA, is there to assist you in properly organizing, preparing, and filing your tax return. When looking for a certified public accountant, you should always interview and ask questions of prospective accountants before hiring someone. Questions you should ask include:
What kinds of clients do you work with? Were your previous clients’ financial situations similar to mine?
You want to know the financial situations of former clients because certain tax laws apply only to individuals whose incomes are of a certain level. The potential hire might be overqualified or under-qualified for your specific requirements.
Will you be doing the work yourself or outsourcing?
While many CPAs do their own work, you will want to know if a candidate or firm will outsource work. An outsourced CPA might be hard to get in touch with, and that can cause problems if issues come up.
Will I be able to get in touch with you easily if I have more questions? Should tax issues arise, how often would we communicate?
You should look for a CPA who is easy to work with. You will be seeing a lot of each other, and if you cannot communicate with each another and get along, problems will eventually surface.
What licenses or designations do you possess?
Besides a certificate and a license to operate as a certified public accountant, an accountant may have other credentials that could be beneficial to you. For example, an accountant may have credentials as a financial planner, a business valuation expert, or a lawyer.
What are your fees? Do you charge a flat or hourly rate?
CPAs may bill by the hour, by the type of tax form that needs to be filled, for the overall return, or any combination of these. It is best to discuss this early in the process in order to avoid friction further down the road.
How long have you been an accountant?
The more complex your tax situation, the greater the expertise necessary to ensure the best possible results. You want an accountant who has enough experience to handle your finances and to know how to tackle any problems should they arise.
Have any of your clients been audited? If so, how many? What was the outcome?
These are important questions to ask, because if a CPA has had several clients audited by the IRS, it could mean his or her expertise is not up to the professional standards you require.
Do you have references whom I can contact?
Referrals are always a good sign, because they can speak to the work of the potential CPA. When speaking to a reference, be sure to ask questions: Was the CPA easy to work with? Did everything go smoothly? Were you audited? Etc.
What education have you completed in your area of expertise? Are you enrolled in continuing education?
Since tax laws are so intricate and complex, certain states require CPAs to complete continuing education programs to ensure that they are up to date on interpretations of the tax code.