If you are reading this post, it’s safe to assume we have a couple of things in common. Maybe you run your own small business, own some rentals, or if you are lucky you may even have some investments too. But the one thing that a lot of business owners dread each year is, preparing their taxes.
A LOT of people prepare their own taxes each year, but there IS a point when it just makes sense to have someone else do them for you. Is now that time for you?
Before you make up your mind, and decide if now is the time to have someone else prepare your taxes, let’s discuss how you should go about comparing different tax preparation services. Ready? Let’s go!
What should be evaluated? As a tax preparer and CPA myself, here is what I’d tell my clients to look for in a good tax preparer:
- Reasonable Pricing
- Knows your niche
- Likes doing taxes
Pricing is probably the first thing to consider when narrowing down your tax preparer. In general, you get what you pay for, but there are excellent preparers in a variety of different price ranges, depending on what you need.
Now, when I say “reasonable pricing” it means that neither party, you or the preparer, is ripping each other off. I’m a big fan of reasonable pricing because it means that the price and the actual work that it takes to complete your taxes makes good sense for both parties. If the CPA charges way too much, you won’t be happy with the end result. If the CPA charges way to little, he won’t be happy with the end result. There are many business tax preparation services out there, just look for one that has reasonable pricing.
One popular trend in pricing, that we at Lucid Books have jumped on early, is to offer a fixed-priced tax return fee. This can be done if the CPA knows his customers or clients very well or serves a certain niche. Which leads to the next point…
Make Sure They Know Your Niche
For a CPA charging fixed pricing, it’s all about specialization. For example, if I know my clients well enough and serve a specific industry or niche, when a prospective client comes knocking at my door that fits my firm, I know exactly what to expect. That allows me to offer a fixed (and lower) price because we specialize in that type of tax return.
When you find a business tax preparation service that specializes in your industry, not only would you get the benefit of a lower price, but you would also get the benefit of them knowing your industry well enough to know where additional tax savings may be. So if you are out scouting around for a tax professional, take a look and see if they serve your niche. It’s more likely to be a good match for both of you.
By professional, I don’t mean how they dress. (I’m currently wearing some grey/white jeans, no shoes, a large tan belt, and an orange polo shirt) Professionalism is how you are treated by your CPA.
- Are their tax processes explained to you so you can easily understand, or do they just blow off your questions?
- Do they have touch points laid out so you know when to get them particular information, and when they will ask you questions?
- Are they knowledgeable?
All of these professional tendencies contribute to having a mutually rewarding experience. If you don’t feel well taken care of by your CPA, then you may want to start looking elsewhere.
Likes Doing Taxes
When I was a teenager, my dad would take me around with him to do various errands. This one time my dad took me to a mechanic’s shop to get our car fixed, and my dad went inside to talk to the mechanic who was going to work on our car. When he finally came out, he seemed pretty pleased and said that he was going to leave the car at this shop to be fixed.
At the time, I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on, but I remember that he told me that he really liked this place because he could tell the mechanic was really excited to work on his car. He said he felt safe that the job would be done right, because he could tell that the mechanic loved what he was doing. He loved being a mechanic.
I’ve always remembered that particular moment with my dad, and I think the same thing applies when looking for a CPA, a bookkeeper. a plumber, or any other professional service provider. If they are excited, and really like what they are doing for work, then they are more likely to do a great job for you.
So when you interview your next CPA, maybe try and determine how much he or she actually likes being a CPA.
Look, it’s is pretty difficult to determine the above four criteria without actually talking to an accountant. So I’d recommend getting a free consultation, as most CPA’s offer it, over the phone so you can get a feel what I have discussed above.
In the end, if you feel good about their pricing, experience or niche, how you are treated, and if you think they like their job, then they could indeed be a great fit for you and your business.