One of the most important things you can do for your finances is to file your tax correctly. This, and taking care of your finances, can contribute to significant financial gain in the long run. To do it right, you may need to hire a tax advisor. They can guide you on the best routes to take, as well as execute critical tasks.
But then, what do you look for when hiring a professional? If you’ve never hired a tax advisor before, this may be a tough question to answer. Not to worry because this article highlights everything you need to know about hiring a tax advisor, including top mistakes to avoid.
Decide on what you want.
The obvious first step is identifying why you need a tax advisor. Are you being audited by the IRS, or are you looking to get your books in order? Your reasons for hiring a tax advisor will guide you on which ones to choose. There are thousands of professionals, and they differ by education, experience, and qualifications.
Identifying what services you need can also help the advisor guide you. You may need additional help in areas you hadn’t anticipated. If you hire a competent tax consultant, they can identify other areas you need their input and provide it.
Here are some other reasons why you might need a tax consultant:
- To claim all your deductions
- To save time doing taxes and other documentation
- To remain on the good side of the law
Locate someone with the right credentials.
Once you know the services you want, you can use it as a filter to hire the right consultant. If the IRS is auditing you, find someone who has helped past clients with similar problems. Similarly, if you’re looking for tax breaks or looking to claim benefits, the advisor should have a list of clients they’ve claimed such benefits for.
It also helps if you hire a certified public accountant. CPAs aren’t the only professionals with knowledge of tax practices. But then, they are usually the most qualified and knowledgeable. They also handle clients looking to reduce taxes. If you’re looking for tax breaks, they are definitely the right professionals for the job.
There are many ways to locate a CPA, from association directories to online communities and even referrals. You may not give all the sources the same weight — referrals are often more trusted than others. However, it’s still a good idea to screen all your candidates.
Hiring a tax advisor is an undertaking that can have long-term impacts on your finances. Therefore, you can’t rush the decision. Take your time to verify your potential hires and review their credentials. If they have references, make sure they are authentic and honest.
You should also ask as many questions as you need to. Some of the revealing ones include how they bill and how you can reduce the time it takes to get the job done. You should also find out how much of their work they outsource. If your taxes are going to be handled by a third party, you should know about it.
Finally, try to get a time estimate. Besides giving you something to plan with, a time estimate can clue you in on the advisor’s skill level. If they can’t tell you how long it will take, they may not have as much experience as you thought. That paves the way to another series of questions.
Get an advisor who asks you questions.
Answering your questions is only half the criteria. You should also find an advisor who’s willing and able to ask you the right questions. Like an interview scenario, an inquisitive advisor tells you that they have worthwhile contributions and can’t wait to make them. It also tells you how much the advisor knows about your situation.
The questions should be focused on your long-term goals and financial aspirations. If you’re hiring them on retainer, they should also want to know what kind of financial advice you’ve gotten in the past and how you’ve acted on it.
Naturally, this inquisitive nature should flow into your working relationship after the hire. A thorough line of questioning and inquisitive search will lead your advisor to your tax and other financial issues.
Consider hiring firms.
People often shy away from hiring firms because of their rates. However, this is mostly irrational because most firms bill based on your needs and the number of person-hours needed to complete the task. You’d more or less pay based on the service delivered to you, and that’s as fair as anybody can expect.
You should consider hiring a firm if your tax needs are more complicated than a single individual can handle. Sometimes, you need expertise in various tax fields that a single professional just can’t handle. Additionally, tax firms have connections and resources that would expedite the process. You may also choose to hire a firm for the confidence of dealing with a capable organization.
When interviewing a firm, you should consider their size and the number of accountants in your case. Firms usually have a long list of accomplishments and satisfied clients, so you may not screen those. Instead, focus on the individual qualifications of the advisors in your case. Are they suitably qualified? Will there be an oversight from the head advisor? These questions will help you choose the right firm.
Consider freelance platforms.
Hiring a tax advisor from freelance platforms like Glassdoor and Upwork can have its advantages. For one thing, most of the background check is done for you. These platforms have rating systems that show the professional’s job performance based on other clients’ reviews.
Secondly, most professionals display their education, experience, and rates on their profile. All the information you need to hire a professional is simply a click away. You could then send messages for further clarification. This is much simpler than interviewing professionals you find on association websites or directories. Additionally, because the platforms are highly competitive, the professionals are eager to answer your questions and work with you.
There are also cons to hiring tax advisors on freelance platforms. For example, you won’t be able to interact physically. You’ll have to relay all the necessary information via text, spreadsheets, and calls. If you’ve worked like this in the past, it won’t be a problem. Here’s a list of possible websites for hitting tax advisors.
Be sure to avoid these mistakes.
The above tips can help you find the best tax advisor for your needs. However, when screening, it’s also important to know what mistakes to avoid. They are usually easy to overlook because you’re too busy focusing on other requirements.
Hire based on low rates.
Hiring based on rates is one of the least thorough ways to pick an advisor. People who do this want to get the most value for minimal investment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
More often than not, you get what you pay for. Cheap advisors tend to contribute the minimal required effort needed to complete the task. Professionals who charge what they are worth, on the other hand, give you the highest possible value for your money.
Hire a highly specialized advisor.
Highly specialized advisors do one thing, and they do it really well. Unfortunately, you may need a diversified professional, and that’s where determining your needs is really important.
If all the needs listed in our first point match your situation, hiring a specialized advisor isn’t a good idea. You need a general practitioner who has done a little of everything.
Hire a professional who has trouble communicating.
By communicating, we don’t just mean scheduling meetings and updating you on your tax situation. For tax advisors and accountants, communicating extends to relaying your financial information in jargon-free English.
It’s essential to understand the financial tasks in your business and how you can prevent future problems. Since most people don’t understand accounting jargon, your accountant will have to lay it down in simple terms.
Hire someone without knowledge of the latest software.
Tax advisors often have to work with various accounting software. Competent professionals know this and are accustomed to all the latest software. As they all have their nuances and unique features, a rounded understanding comes in handy.
However, this isn’t a deal-breaker. Your tax advisor may know a single software really well. If the software is continuously updated and helps your advisor complete their tasks, that’s a good sign. But then, generally, versatility equals expertise.
The bottom line
There are many factors to consider when hiring a tax advisor. If you’re hiring one for your business, it may simply be better to onboard the professional instead of outsourcing your tasks every year. In this case, Taxfyle’s tax preparation service may come in handy.
An author of Namaste UI, published several articles focused on blogging, business, web design & development, e-commerce, finance, health, lifestyle, marketing, social media, SEO, travel.
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