CPAs function as independent auditors and act as advisors to individuals, businesses, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies on a wide range of finance and tax-related matters.
To qualify for certification and a state license, an individual generally must:
- Have a college degree or its equivalent
- Pass the rigorous uniform CPA Examination
- Meet certain experience or postgraduate study requirements
- Meet annual continuing education requirements
- Adhere to certain ethical standards and codes of professional conduct established by governmental bodies and peer organizations
- Management Consultants
- Personal Financial Representative
- Tax Advisor
- Technology Consultant
A CPA has demonstrated professional competence by passing a rigorous examination and meeting high standards of education. In addition, they must meet strict continuing education requirements, undergo peer review, and adhere to a stringent set of ethical standards.
CPAs are authorized to represent taxpayers in an IRS audit, as are attorneys and other professionals known as enrolled agents (EA). An EA is an individual who has demonstrated technical competence in the field of taxation and is the only taxpayer representative who receives their right to practice from the U.S. government. An accountant can only represent a taxpayer before the IRS if he or she is an EA.
The IRS estimates that it can take 28 ½ hours to research tax law, organize your records, and complete a standard 1040 return with three common schedules. Tax law is constantly changing, so it is important that you are educated about these changes so you correctly fill out your forms. Being technologically savvy is also important as tax preparation software can help eliminate errors, both mathematical and technical. If you’re not comfortable with using this type of software, you may want to contact a CPA.
If you’re a salaried employee who takes the standard deduction, your return is likely to be simple. However, if you’ve encountered a major life change, such as marriage or divorce, or own a vacation home or rental property, your tax situation may be more complicated.
Self-employed individuals and small business owners are more likely to be audited by the IRS, and working with a CPA will help lessen that risk. In addition, if you have a high income, live in a state with high income taxes, or have a lot of miscellaneous itemized deductions, you could be subjected to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT, which eliminates many itemized deductions and was created to ensure that the wealthy pay their share of taxes, is now affecting more middle-class taxpayers. If you think this might affect you, consult a CPA.
Information for this question comes from The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
It is also depends on your prior year tax liability. Do you know how to avoid an underpayment penalty situation?
We can tell you how to avoid the underpayment penalty, and we can compute approximately how much you will get back or have to pay in.
Ask yourself, “How valuable is my time?” Imagine what you could be doing to build your business with that time. Could you earn more than what a CPA would cost? The answer to these questions will change as your business grows.
Also, consider if you have the skills and the desire to do it yourself. Will you have to learn these skills? Will you have to keep yourself updated? Do you really want to crunch numbers? Do you want more than just a report when you are done?
Does your CPA and advisor take time to listen to you? Does your CPA and advisor return your calls in a timely manner? Do you feel comfortable asking your CPA and advisor a question?
When you need a professional who will make you their top priority, call us!
• Will you need help with personal financial issues, individual or corporate tax returns, retirement, estate, or college planning? Are you seeking investment help?
• Do you need financial statements prepared for your business? Must those statements be audited or reviewed? Will you need special financial reports for government agencies?
• How comfortable are you in your own ability (or in the case of a business, your staff’s ability) to handle financial and operational details. Do you want to do as much as possible in-house, or are you considering out-sourcing some of your bookkeeping, accounting, or CFO functions?
• Do you need help preparing a business plan or a personal or business loan application?
• Will your business need other services such as technology planning, strategic planning, process consulting, or costs analysis?
• What is your budget for CPA services?
Having answers to these questions can help guide you in choosing a CPA.
Hourly based fees: For much of our work we are compensated based on the numbers of hours it takes to complete the work. We are happy to quote our hourly rates and to provide fee estimates for specific tasks.
Task based pricing: Our payroll processing service is priced based on the number of pay periods per month, the number of checks in each pay period, and the costs of any expenses (such as delivery fees).
Fixed fee services: For some longer term projects or commitments such as monthly write-up we charge a fixed fee.
Different types of services command different rates because of the expertise level of the people who perform them. We will talk frankly with you about our fees and put together a plan that utilizes the right CPA or staff person for the services you need, so that the value of the service and the price of the service make sense for you.
- Recommending tax planning strategies
- Preparing tax returns
- Advising individuals on personal financial planning, including retirement and estate planning
- Reviewing a company’s accounting system and recommending improvements
- Consulting on business problems and advising ways to improve the use of a client’s resources
- Assisting in the design and installation of data processing and management information systems
- Conducting special studies (financing, inventories, cost accounting, credit, and collection) for business, government, and nonprofit organizations
- Helping clients apply for loans and credit by gathering and preparing information required
- Working with clients, attorneys, and bankers on mergers, acquisitions, and expansions
Most CPAs meet substantially the same education, training, and licensing requirements. Nonetheless, they provide a broad and varied range of services. We specialize in small business, tax or financial planning, audit/assurance services, to name just a few.
In order for you to get the most value from any CPA relationship, it is important to first analyze your current and future financial needs. This will help you select someone who can address your particular concerns.
- Develop a personal financial plan
- Create a family budget
- Plan for retirement
- Develop an estate plan
- Assess insurance needs
- Advise on divorce settlements
- Devise savings and investment strategies
- Build college funds
- Develop tax strategies
- Prepare tax returns
- Minimize tax liability
- Set up accounting systems
- Secure financing
- Analyze operating results
- Provide management consulting services on such subjects as data processing systems
- Develop budgets and business plans and forecasts
- Prepare tax returns
- Audit, review, or compile financial statements
- Assess benefit and compensation plans
• Be prepared to discuss your plans, goals, problems, and questions. We can most effectively advise you and serve your best interests when we understand your goals.
• Gather all relevant personal and business financial information so we can get an accurate picture and ask specific questions.
• Be clear and candid about what you expect from our services.
• Keep us informed of changes in your professional and personal life. A marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, an inheritance, a career change, or a generous bonus can have a significant impact on your tax liability and financial goals.
• Be open to new ideas, tools, and opportunities.
• Ensure that you and your staff meet your commitments to deliver appropriate, accurate, and timely information so that we have the information we need when we need it so we can do the best job for you.
Other questions? Contact us today.