If you’re looking for a professional to help with your taxes, make sure that person understands both the real estate industry and IRS rules. These questions offer starting points for your conversation with a potential CPA.
What Type of Clients Do You Have?
This basic question will let you know if the CPA has experience working with self-employed people. It also can reveal if the CPA specializes in a few areas or works with clients across many industries. A person whose focus matches your situation will often be able to offer more detailed guidance.
Do You Provide Tax Planning?
Some CPAs only prepare your taxes. Others will prepare your taxes and offer strategies to reduce your future tax liability. Ask if the CPA offers tax planning and what it consists of.
Who Will Be Working on My Taxes?
Even a one-person CPA office may outsource some jobs. That shouldn’t automatically disqualify any accountant, but you want to know that the person working on your taxes has the appropriate experience and supervision.
What’s Your Availability?
When you’re filing quarterly estimated taxes or have other concerns throughout the year, you don’t want an accountant who focuses only on April 15 and is hard to reach at other times. Make sure you’re comfortable with the CPA’s communication and accessibility.
Is Your Approach Conservative or Aggressive?
It’s important to know that your accountant’s appetite for risk matches yours. You don’t want to find out after you’re audited that you hired a CPA who pushes the boundaries when it comes to writing off expenses.
What is Your Billing and Fee Structure?
Find out if the accountant charges by the hour or use a flat rate. If it’s a flat rate, find out what is covered by that rate. Will you be charged extra if you call to ask for advice about making a change to your business?
These questions are not the only ones to ask, but they will give you a basic outline of a CPA’s suitability for your business.