ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Personal Finance»
  • Tax & Taxes»
  • Tax Advice

5 Questions to Ask Your Tax Preparer/Accountant

Updated on April 12, 2011
KeithTax profile image

Keith Schroeder writes The Wealthy Accountant blog with 30 years experience in the tax field. He is the tax adviser of Mr. Money Mustache.

When I pick up the phone, the most common words I hear are "What do you charge?" No introduction, nothing. Just a blurted out question. I propose that this is the worst thing to ask first. I don't know who you are, your tax situation, or how much time I must invest to prepare an accurate return for you. If cost is your only concern, I'm not your guy. Besides, you sound like my competition checking out my prices. Note to competitors: My price has nothing to do with yours. Quality of service determines fees.

Think of it this way: You call inquiring about the price of an orange. "One hundred dollars," you are told. "Are you nuts." Click. Too bad you didn't ask a better question. The orange in question is made of 24k gold. Professional services work in much the same way.

When searching for a tax professional, I recommend asking the five following questions in order. Before you get to the cost question, you may already want to search elsewhere.

  1. How long have you been in business/preparing taxes/payroll/bookkeeping? There is nothing wrong hooking up with a new accountant/bookkeeper/payroll service. New businesses should have experienced staff and management. We all need to cut our teeth somewhere. Doing so without experience puts clients at risk. Mistakes are too easy in this profession. The tax code is large, changing, and the tax courts don't always agree with each other. You want at least a few years of real-life, on the job experience.
  2. What professional designations do you have? Licenses? You want a CPA or enrolled agent (EA) handling your tax situation. It doesn't guarantee competence, but they at least have a rudimentary knowledge of taxes.
  3. Are you familiar with my tax situation? Clint Eastwood said a man's gotta know his limitations. He's right. There are certain areas of tax code I am unfamiliar/uncomfortable with. Other area I prefer to avoid. I love individuals and small businesses. I avoid farms. I don't do enough of them to be really good at it, so I pass. Businesses with over 100 employees is more than I feel comfortable handling in my firm. I don't have the staff to give the service a company of this size requires. If you have up to twenty employees, call me; I want to talk.
  4. Are you taking new clients? Why not ask this question first? Because I always have room for one more client, if it is the right client. Asking these questions in order allows me to determine if I am taking new clients.
  5. What do you charge? By this time you and I know if we want to work together. Sometimes I can give you an idea where my fees will fall. Other times I need to sit down and review the file first. I generally charge a flat fee. I determine that fee by how many hours I think it will take me to complete the job.

See, that was easy. A few simple questions allows both of us to set the foundation to a mutually rewarding business relationship. Price is important, but not the only factor. Ask what kind of orange it is before getting a price quote.

How much do you pay to have your taxes prepared professionally?

See results

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)