Are you thinking about hiring to a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to track your business’s financial transactions? Statistics show there are now over 650,000 licensed CPAs in the United States. But you shouldn’t choose just any CPA to handle your business’s accounting. Rather, you should consider the five following things when hiring a CPA.
First and foremost, make sure the CPA is actually a CPA and not just an accountant. While requirements vary from state to state, most places require CPAs to have 150 semesters of college education, one year of accountant-related experience and pass an exam known as the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. As a result, CPAs have the knowledge and skills needed to help your business succeed.
In addition to certification, you should also consider a CPA’s location. If a CPA is located 100 miles away from your business, you probably won’t see him or her very often if at all. The CPA may still offer his or her services to your business, but all communications will be conducted either by phone or over the internet. And depending on the nature of your business, the lack of face-to-face meetings could increase the risk of accounting errors. Therefore, it’s a good idea to hire a CPA who’s located within a reasonable driving distance from your business.
#3) IRS Representation
Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to your business, but it’s a good idea to have a CPA who will represent you if your business is audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If a CPA isn’t willing to represent you, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
#4) Software Used
What type of accounting software does the CPA use? Some CPAs will only use their software, whereas others are willing to use your business’s software. If you use Quickbooks Desktop, for example, you can create an accountant’s copy. With an accountant’s copy, you can work on your business’s books simultaneously with your CPA.
Of course, you should consider a CPA’s fees and whether they are aligned with your business’s budget. Although there are exceptions, most CPAs charge either a flat fee or a per-hour fee. A typical flat fee charged by a CPA for an itemized tax return is about $300 to $400. If a CPA charges by the hour, you can expect to pay around $50 to $150 per hour of accounting work.
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