It’s tax season y’all and many of you have either filed your taxes or are getting ready to file them or maybe some of you are now challenged with helping your Mom or Dad file their taxes. Whether you visit your local tax preparer, use turbo tax to do it yourself (which has been my method for some time) –there comes a time when you need some expert coaching and someone knowledgeable on the ever changing tax laws. This current economic and political climate can vastly affect everyone’s financial condition positively or even negatively.
Perhaps you now have additions to your family –a child or an aging parent who can no longer handle their own affairs. Your Mom is a widow and she used to file joint with your Dad –so what do you do? This may be the time to build up your team with an arsenal of professionals that will keep you abreast of the things you need to know –changes in filing status and how to maximize your deductions when life changes due to an event. One of the key members of that team is a CPA or Certified Accountant. A CPA has taken extensive training to advise and consult on tax and accounting matters. They have passed the CPA exam and met state and other certification requirements. Sounds fancy right? Yep – so who would you want watching your wallet?
What key things do you need to know?
- Does the CPA meet your needs?
- What are their specialties?
- Do you need one for your business or personal needs?
- Are they skilled in estate planning?
- Can they assist with financial planning?
- Do you just want to prepare your return?
- Do you want financial guidance on buying a house?
- Would you like someone to guide you on retirement savings?
- Do they make things easy for you to understand?
- Can they advise you on complicated situations?
- Are they knowledgeable in and can they easily explain topics in simpler terms?
- Can they explain what will happen if you need to sell Mom’s house? Will this trigger a tax event?
- Does their level of experience suit your needs?
- Can they move through the cycles of life with you? Adulthood – Marriage – Children – Eldercare Issues
- Can they do more than just prepare taxes? There’s nothing wrong with a tax preparer but you want someone certified and knowledgeable to provide advisement on taxes and all of the above!
- Do you need help on tax implications associated with planning your estate?
- Find out how they run their practice
- Is it virtual or in-person?
- How responsive are they?
- Do they ask you a lot of questions?
- How knowledgeable do they seem?
- Do they care about your goals, spending habits and future plans?
- What are their fees? Is it hourly or by the job?
- How do you go about finding a CPA?
Ask for recommendations from family, friends or business associates. Interview them – schedule a consultation and find out about their education and experience just as you would if you were researching a doctor for your Dad’s medical condition. Consider going to someone who’s seasoned –not necessarily someone who may be just starting out. For example, if you are caring for an elder –someone who has experience in estate or eldercare issues would probably be a good fit. Be aware of what you need – go armed with a list of questions, necessary documents and observe how they interact with you. Do your research and check out their background. You can verify their active license data on https://cpaverify.org/ which pulls information from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
So there you have it – Top tips for adding a trusted CPA as an essential member of your team.
By the way, getting a tax professional is not just about filing taxes, but setting yourself and your family to weather the shifts through life. It’s all a part of getting ready so you can stay ready!
Happy CPA hunting!
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