Questions to ask a tax accountant or preparer for your business before hiring them
5 min read
April 20, 2021 • Block Advisors
There are millions of tax preparers in the U.S., so where do you begin in your quest to find one who best suits your unique tax needs?
Here are the questions to ask a tax accountant or preparer for your business to vet their experience and expertise. This can be especially important if you don’t have the time or expertise to do your own taxes as a small business owner.
Your tax accountant should be a go-to resource for your business, whether it’s managing bookkeeping, payroll, or small business tax preparation. Thus, the right questions to ask a tax professional can help you make sure you found one that best meets your needs and is qualified to help your business.
Questions to ask your business tax preparer
1 – “What’s your tax background?”
First, define a tax preparer’s credibility by asking for professional credentials and background. Experience is critical when it comes to tax service providers. Understanding certifications helps when it comes to finding tax help—learn about them here:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA): A certified public accountant, or CPA, is certified to act as a public accountant. A CPA is the only licensed qualification in accounting, and the certification is granted after you pass an exam.
- Enrolled Agent (EA): An enrolled agent, or EA, is the highest credential awarded by the IRS, is tax preparer who is enrolled to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals.
- Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN): Any person authorized to prepare your tax return for a fee needs to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN.
Another good question to ask tax preparers is, “how much experience do you have with small business taxes?”
Block Advisors small business certified tax pros have completed proprietary training focusing on the unique needs of small businesses across many industries, and some are CPAs, EAs, or have other specialties. Focusing on the complexities of small businesses is what takes our pros beyond tax theory and into real-world experience.
The specialized training undergone by Block Advisors small business certified tax pros is from Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, and is designed to provide a better experience for our self-employed and small business clients. These individuals seek this additional level of certification to demonstrate their commitment to helping small business owners succeed.
Plus, these tax pros will receive annual training to stay current on the unique needs of the self-employed and small businesses—including Schedule C, LLCs, S corporations, partnerships, and C corporation structures.
2 – “How do you charge clients?”
The next question to ask a tax professional is how they charge clients. Tax preparers charge in a variety of ways:
- By the hour
- By the return
- By the complexity/number of forms
- By a percentage of the total amount of your refund
There is no right or wrong way to be charged, but it’s helpful to get a rough estimate of their fees. While you might not get a hard number of the amount you will owe, establish an estimate, so you are not surprised down the road.
3 – “How do you file taxes?”
Most individuals prefer e-filing a tax return, yet some tax preparers will mail them. Define the filing method they use with clients. Generally, a paid tax preparer who files 11 or more individual, estate, and trust tax returns is required to file electronically.
4 – “What is your availability year-round?”
Even after taxes are filed, the IRS may need more information about your tax return, so the tax professional should be available to you. On top of this, your taxes are just one part of your overall small business’ financial picture, so it’s essential to find someone who addresses your business’ needs throughout the year.
Our tax pros are available to answer questions and keep you and your business on track year-round. Whether it’s bookkeeping, payroll, or other small business tax services, we have an ecosystem of services to help your small business.
5 – “How do you communicate ongoing with clients?”
In today’s day and age, you can communicate with tax pros several ways – in person, electronically, or via a client portal. Make sure the tax professional meets your needs in this area.
6 – “What areas of tax do you specialize in?”
People’s lives vary – thus, so do their taxes. Your tax situation varies so much from business to business, so it’s crucial to find a tax preparer with specific expertise – one who can cover all your important small business tax forms.
By working with Block Advisors, you’ve got the benefit of a team of experienced tax professionals. We are the experts for every tax situation—because our reach is so broad. Our tax pros have seen every tax situation –and we lean on our network of experts to handle even the most complex tax situation.
Additionally, our tax pros can tap into the expertise of The Tax Institute, a panel of tax experts who analyze and address tax law changes and complex tax issues.
7 – “What happens if a client gets audited?”
Any small business owner should ask how the tax preparer handles audits. Will the preparer represent your case to the IRS? What about the cost to fix mistakes—how do they calculate this?
Keep in mind: If you receive a notice from the IRS or are audited, Block Advisors will support you. Through our Peace of Mind® Extended Service Plan, you’ll receive audit representation for the life of the return* at no additional charge in Block Advisors offices. In addition, if you receive an IRS notice, our team at Block Advisors can review, research, and respond on behalf of your small business by adding Business Tax Audit Support to your return for a nominal extra fee for this year’s return.
Have additional questions for a tax professional? We’re here for you.
Finding a quality small business tax professional for you can be tricky. Thankfully, by asking them the right questions, you could find yourself in a better position to find help. Block Advisors is a trusted resource for small businesses like yours. In fact, our small business certified tax pros have an average of 12 years of experience.
Make an appointment today!
*Block Advisors does not provide investment or legal advice.
*Audit representation does not include legal representation. See plan terms and conditions for details.