One of the questions I see bloggers and freelancers asking the most is what they should look for in a good accountant. Many of them, understandably, have been W-2 employees their entire lives and could get away with firing up TurboTax once a year. However, as many freelancers come to learn, working for yourself isn’t that simple when it comes to taxes.
Unfortunately, there’s some skepticism about whether or not an accountant can understand the blogging and freelancing world. That was definitely a fear I had when I started my own search for a good accountant a couple of years ago. I kept hitting wall after wall because many of the referrals I got simply didn’t get how I earned money.
The bright side is there are more accountants now that understand how freelancers make a living. Here’s what you need to look for when searching for a good accountant.
Do they get what you do for a living?
While I would argue that any good accountant can figure out your taxes, the truth remains that it’s preferrable to find an accountant that understands the freelancing world. At the very least, a good accountant should understand how contracting works and how it affects your taxes. Additionally, a good accountant should be able to advise you about effective tax avoidance strategies for your particular situation.
For example, my accountant recently told me I may want to start considering an S-Corp for my business as a way to save money on taxes. He said this based on the revenue that was coming in (and let’s face it, also based on my complaining over how much I’m shelling out to Uncle Sam).
Do they charge extra for communication?
If you’re on the hunt for a good accountant, you’re going to want to see if they charge you extra money for communication or whether it’s included in their fee. This is especially important because, let’s be real, sometimes we’ll freak out and call our accountant when we have questions. If they charge extra for that you could be shelling out a lot of money.
Are they actually an accountant or do they just do bookkeeping on the side?
There is a difference between a good accountant and someone who just does some bookkeeping on the side. A good accountant can help you tax plan throughout the year, a bookkeeper just helps you keep your books organized.
When looking for an accountant, make sure they are actually an accountant. You may also want to ask for credentials and references to make sure they are a good fit for you.
Are they the ones actually doing the work?
If you’re looking for a good accountant, you’ll want to make sure they are actually doing the work and not handing it off to an associate. Granted, this could be a matter of preference, but if you want individual attention, make sure to ask.
Having a good accountant is an integral part to running a successful freelance business. You do not want to mess with the Tax Man, even if by accident, because it could end up costing you more in the long run.