How should you evaluate the tax preparation services of an accountant?

Tax Accountant

It’s important to make sure you have someone you can trust, who is truly committed, dedicated and attentive?

Finding a Good Accountant:

It is not wise to judge your accountant’s tax preparation services by their appearances. The mere fact that you are receiving a refund, or even by the size of the refund is not indicative of the quality of his/her services. An accountant who reduces your taxes payable from $15K to $10, is just as competent, if not more, than one who increase your refund from $2K to $3K.

We all know that clients basically have to trust their accountant to be diligent and do what needs to be done properly.  If they could review all his/her work, they would not be using his/her services in the first place anyways, right?  While no one is perfect, how can you evaluate if he/she is ethical, dedicated and will to exercise these important characteristics?

Here are a few questions and factors to consider and ask yourself when evaluating whether you have a good accountant or not:

  • Does the accountant have an education, training, experience and a designation?
  • Is your accountant accessible when you need him on the telephone, email or in person during and after tax season? Does the tax specialist’s firm offer help and assistance during the preparation process?
  • Does the tax specialist really make himself available and takes the time to sit with his clients to get the tax preparation or accounting information he needs from them and that he has not been made aware of?  (Many eligible tax opportunities are inadvertently discovered while discussing with the client about other matters.)
  • Is your accountant listening to your needs and really considering your unique financial situation and opportunities?
  • The most important qualities you are looking for are: Is he organized, detail-oriented and conscientious?
  • What tools, if any, does the accountant offer his clients to help them compile their personal or business expense figures?
  • Does the tax accountant attempt to simplify his clients’ work and preparation? Is he attentive and considerate of your needs?
  • Does the accounting firm offer a basic tax reminder list to help his clients or business get organized?
  • Does the tax specialist offer suggestions and make recommendations? What services are included?
  • Is the client receiving personalized service or the sometimes mass corporate / franchise tax and accounting services?
  • How fast and efficient is the tax specialist in processing the client’s file?  What is the average turnaround time?  Is it one day, one week, one month or more?
  • Have you verified his previous tax or accounting client references?  (See Testimonials).

The requested work may only require a few hours of tax preparation or accounting to perform to obtain a completed product, but there are also years of education, learning and service involved to develop the required experience.  That is not to mention the days, if not weeks or months to set-up the business operations.

That being said avoid accountants with large overhead expenses because the clients are usually the ones who are going to end up paying for those additional business expenses in any case. (See Our fees).

On the other hand, if you are looking for the lowest tax preparation or accounting service fees, you will in return get the lowest amount of time and service level invested by the tax preparer or accounting service.  Don’t kid yourself.

It is wise to spend a few extra reasonable dollars to get the work done diligently.   In the end you usually save yourself a lot more in time and taxes than what the increase in fees may be in any case.  From experience, I can tell you that is the case most of the time.

Conclusion:  Those are all basic questions that should be answered positively if your CPA accountant is really doing you a service and is meeting professional standards.  Anything else is less than what you deserve and what you should be looking for.

Word of Advice: Remember, the general rule is that you get what you pay for most of the time.

Good luck with your evaluation and decision!

Share Button