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The Top 8 things to ask an Accountant before You hire them for your Business

By Andrea MacDonald, CPA

How do you know when and how to hire an accountant for your business? Whether you run a small business or a large company, accounting and balancing your books is key to long-term success.

Many business owners handle their finances themselves, but it isn’t always possible. Sometimes, a business’ financial challenges can get too complicated. As a business owner, you don’t always have the time to tackle those challenges. If this sounds like you, it might be time to think about hiring an accountant. But before you take this big step, there are some questions you should ask.

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You’ll need to determine whether you need a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), for instance.

A typical accountant can help you with bookkeeping, taxes and payroll. A CPA, meanwhile, can provide more services to your business. That’s because they have to go through extensive training. A CPA can act as a business adviser or a tax consultant. They can also help you make critical financial decisions.

Businesses can’t always take on such complex bookkeeping and accounting tasks themselves. If they do, they might leave themselves vulnerable to financial difficulty. It’s important to avoid hiring the wrong person, though. That’s why we want to help you find the right accountant for your company. Below, we’ve outlined eight things to ask an accountant before you hire them for your business.

The Top 8 things to ask an Accountant before You hire them for your Business

1. How does hiring a CPA benefit me as a business owner?

When hiring an accountant, it’s important to verify whether they’re a CPA. If they are, they should be able to give you a good overview of the services they provide. A CPA can provide your business with legal and financial protection. They can also help you maximize your deductions and lower your tax liability. But not every business bookkeeping task requires a CPA’s help. That’s why you should talk to any potential accountant about how useful their services will be.

2. Will I have access to your services year-round?

As a business owner, you’ll have to deal with business taxes and accounting throughout the year. And yet, many accounting firms are only available during tax season. You should ask any potential accountants whether they are available year-round. It’s important to meet with your accountant at least once per quarter to keep your books up to date.

3. What software do you use? Are you familiar with QuickBooks?

Do you already use a specific bookkeeping program? If so, you should verify that a potential accountant is familiar with it. Otherwise, they won’t be able to sort through and analyze your records with ease. But you can’t pick an accountant based only on the software they use. In an ideal world, your accountant would use a bookkeeping program that is accessible, like QuickBooks. That way, you won’t face technical problems even if you have to switch accountants down the line.

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4. What types of clients do you work with? Do you have experience working with my specific industry?

Do you want an accountant who can provide key business advice? If so, you need to make sure they have experience working with your specific type of business. Suppose, for example, that you own a restaurant. Your accountant will need to be familiar with the hospitality industry. There are rules in place for tracking wages and tips, for example, that they’ll need to follow. Keep in mind that most industries have different accounting rules. Are you interviewing an accountant specializing in construction or car dealerships? They may not have the expertise to help you with your restaurant finances.

5. How will you protect my privacy?

Accounting involves a lot of sensitive information, like Social Security numbers. Your future accountant should know how to secure your data and protect your privacy. Ask any potential accountant how they plan to protect your documents. They need to have plans for identity theft, hacking and other security breaches.

6. How do you bill for your services?

Hiring an accountant should save you time and money — but only if you make your expectations clear. Some accountants bill a flat rate for their services, while others charge an hourly rate. You should ask about this before proceeding so that you know how much and when you’ll need to pay. You can also negotiate an accountant’s rate. How? You can offer to do more of the bookkeeping legwork yourself. This will allow them to focus on more complex tasks. A good accountant should also be able to explain how they plan to save you money. If they can’t do that, then their services might not be worth the investment.

7. Besides taxes, what other services can you help me with?

Business accountants handle so much more than taxes, but their services can vary. Don’t hesitate to ask a potential accountant what specific services they offer. They might be able to help you out with loans and cash flow management. Depending on their expertise, they may even know about medical expense reimbursement plans.

8. Can you give me some specific examples of deductions you’ve obtained for clients? What about a unique accounting solution you put together for another client?

There’s an important difference between a good and a great accountant. A good accountant will perform all the services you need. A great accountant, meanwhile, can deliver creative solutions to problems you’re unaware of. Ask your future accountant to discuss unique solutions they’ve used for past clients. Did they improve a client’s bottom line with little-known tax deductions? Did they reassess certain employee benefits? Even if they’re not familiar with your business, they should be able to offer some general tips.

These are some of the questions you should ask any accountant or firm before hiring them.

Above all, your future accountant must be reliable, communicative, experienced and have great reviews. If you ask all these questions, you should be able to find an accountant that will save you valuable time and money. Do you think your business could use an accountant? Give Pro Tax & Accounting a call today!

If reading this has created more questions, contact our office. Call (757) 420-1539

Andrea MacDonald, CPA is the owner of Pro Tax & Accounting in Chesapeake, Virginia. For nearly two decades, she has been working with businesses on their bookkeeping, accounting and taxes. She also works with individuals and families on their tax returns. Andrea is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a qualified bookkeeper and tax professional. She is well-versed in tax law, which makes her an invaluable resource for any business. 

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At Pro Tax & Accounting, we keep you from breaking the bank!

Pro Tax & Accounting is your go-to resource for businesses bookkeeping, accounting services, payroll, QuickBooks Consulting and tax services. President and owner, Andrea MacDonald, CPA, is a Certified Public Accountant. Andrea and her team have the education, knowledge and experience and work with businesses throughout the Hampton Roads Virginia cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Newport News and Hampton, north into Williamsburg and throughout the mid-Atlantic region. And thanks to technology, Pro Tax & Accounting can work with clients anywhere in the world!

Call today and free up the time you need to run your business, and leave the bookkeeping and accounting up to the experts!

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Bookkeeping & Accounting Services. (757) 420-1539

Resource: IRS

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