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Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Accountant

At the heart of any business is a good bookkeeping system. It's much easier if you have a top accountant working for your team. Here are five questions to ask before you hire an accountant for your small business or self-employed work.

What is your experience with business taxes?

Most company owners think of business taxes as a thorn in their side. It takes time during the year to do taxes. Then, you need to stop everything and set up payment schedules.

Smart companies have solid accountants who can help them save money. The best accountants also get tax payment schedules on track. Here's what is important: your potential accountant's experience with business taxes and the IRS.

Get someone who knows how to navigate the IRS and the business tax code. Then, you could lower your stress levels and focus more on running your company.

It's also worth mentioning that not all accountants have experience with business taxes. Just because someone has the letters CPA doesn't mean there will be experience with businesses.

Accountants come in all flavors and varieties. Some work mainly on retirement planning or personal taxes. You want someone with expertise in employment taxes, corporate tax payments and business expenses.

What kind of clients have you worked with?

First, learn if the CPA has experience with businesses. Next, find out even more specific details about the person's background. You should ask about the accountant's client history.

Know what is ideal? Someone with a long history of success in your company's field. Do you run a small business or a sole proprietorship? Look for someone with experience in this arena.

Is your company larger and looking to expand? Get help from someone who has a successful background working for places like yours.

Your type of industry is relevant to your financial procedures and taxes as well. Think about this. Your CPA has only worked for construction companies. But, you're a small café. Is this your best option? Probably not.

The whole point of hiring someone is to smooth out your business methods. Someone with experience can improve your company's bottom line. Hiring a CPA who's never worked in your field doesn't make sense.

Would you ask a random employee or stranger to go through your books? An experienced, expert CPA is the only one who is worth the extra expense.

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What is your availability?

In most situations, companies hire accountants on an as-needed basis. Some companies only need accounting services every year at tax time.

Does your organization have more complex tax issues and financial dealings? You may need a year-round CPA on your team. Depending on your needs, you should make sure potential accountants are available when you need them.

Guess what? You're probably not going to be your accountant's only client. Shocking, isn't it? Of course, you want to be your accountant's only focus. But it's more likely you'll be one of many clients.

So, you'll need to get clarification about your accountant's availability. Set some guidelines about how often the two of you should communicate. This way, you won't get frustrated later down the road.

What are your fees?

Then there is the big question about fees and payment. In a vast majority of cases, you won't be paying a salary to your CPA.

This is a good thing. You won't have to worry about adding another person to your books. You also won't have to worry about even more employment taxes on your end. Accountants for businesses get paid through several types of fee schedules.

Some accountants who only work a few days a year for your business may charge an hourly rate. This is typical for companies that only need an expert at tax time. Need more accounting services? You may pay per project or make monthly payments.

How can you help our company save money?

The big reason to invest in a CPA's services is to save more of your business' cash each month. Don't be afraid of asking a candidate for details about how to do this.

Ask for some references. This can help you get more information about the accountant's past success in this area.

Asking this question can help you find people who are truly invested in their clients. It can also help you see the value of bringing on a CPA to your team. The best people work hard for their clients and help them make better financial decisions for the company's future.

If you're in over your head with your company's data and tax payments, it's time to get help. You can find a great accountant to improve your business' financial system. Just ask the right questions before hiring.

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