The end of the year is upon us, which means the end of year business tax frenzy is in full swing. From now until April, business owners across America will be stressing out about their April 15th federal tax return deadline. The easiest way to avoid the mayhem is to find a good accountant.
If you’re starting to make more money, chances are you’ve already thought about hiring an accountant in 2016. Unfortunately, there are a lot of shady accountants out there, so it can be difficult to find a good one.
Fortunately, good accountants do exist. What’s even better is we now have more accountants that specialize in working with freelancers that make most of their money online. Here are just some of the ways you can make sure you’re getting yourself a good accountant in 2016.
Ask for referrals.
Asking for referrals is probably the easiest way to find a good accountant in 2016. However, you can’t just ask anyone for a referral.
I remember once asking some friends who were not business owners about who their accountant was, and they ended up referring a very shady one who wouldn’t even sign the tax return herself (big red flag, by the way).
Once I started asking my professional network I, at least, started getting some decent leads. Moral of the story is to ask fellow business owners (preferably those who do the same thing you do) for referrals.
Look for accountants who get what you do.
One of the biggest struggles I had when I was trying to find a good accountant was that I couldn’t find any who actually got what I did for a living.
I have several streams of income online – all of which are taxed differently – and I was having a hard time finding an accountant who understood all the ways people make money online.
I personally don’t feel comfortable hiring anyone unless they actually get what I do, and this goes double for anyone who is going to help me manage my money.
To make matters worse, many of the more traditional accountants I was being referred to didn’t have all the online systems set up. That means I would have had to actually go to their office or they would have had to come to mine. For some, this isn’t a big deal, but as someone who runs her entire business online with a virtual team, I don’t get how an accountant wouldn’t have an online accounting system set up.
Fortunately, I found my accountant at a conference of financial bloggers I attend each year. He knew who I was, he understood how I made my money and I practically hired him on the spot as a result.
Find an accountant that meets your needs.
A common misconception about accounting is that bookkeepers and accountants are one in the same. Some accountants can do your bookkeeping for you, but bookkeepers are not necessarily accountants and accountants aren’t necessarily bookkeepers. Similarly, tax preparers (think H&R Block) are not accountants.
Finding a good accountant will depend on finding someone who fits your specific needs. Do you need tax planning, estimated taxes, an annual return, payroll and someone to do bank reconciliation? Then you’ll need to find an accountant that offers all of those services.
Before starting your search, get crystal clear on what services you actually need and find accountants that match those needs. This can help you find a good accountant and help you compare the cost among several different ones.
At some point in your business, an accountant will be a must. Taxes are not something to be messed with and accounting is way too time-consuming for business owners. Make sure you can rest easy by using these tips to find a good accountant in 2016.