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Finding the Right Accountant

January 3rd, 2013 Personal Finance

When tax season starts to rear its ugly head, you may start to feel slightly overwhelmed at the prospect, especially if you don't have a lot of experience with filing then taxes on your own. Luckily, accountants are here to save the day - they'll help you prepare your taxes and can ensure that you receive the best possible refund. There are plenty of accountants out there, so you'll want to do a bit of research before committing to one. If you're not sure where to begin, here are a few tips to help get started.

1. Finding an accountant. If you're looking for an accountant, the first thing you should do is ask as many people as possible who they use. Because there are so many available, you should make sure you pick one who can do the best job for you. Different accountants specialize in different financial situations, so try asking folks who make roughly about the same amount of money that you do.

Your search can go down a few different avenues. One option is to look at retail tax franchises. Assuming that filing your taxes will be relatively straightforward, you can expect competent service from these individuals. The amount you pay depends on how many forms need to be filed on your behalf.

If you decide to go with an independent tax firm, it's important to know that there are a few different types of accountants. For instance, Enrolled Agents (EA) have passed a rigorous test conducted by the IRS. They tend to specialize in one area of tax preparation over others, but if your financial situation is somewhat more complex, it could be worth your while to get in touch with an EA.

Certified Public Accountants (CPA) have a license to operate in a given state and tend to specialize in a specific field, such as business consulting or conducting audits. Although not all CPAs handle tax issues, those who do are excellent for those with a lot of assets or a financial situation that is otherwise complicated.

2. Questions to ask. After finding an accountant who seems to suit your needs, it's important that you schedule a meeting and ask a few questions before making the commitment. Tax professionals tend to be restrained a bit by federal and state regulations, so you will want to make sure the one you choose can do the work you expect.

For instance, you may want to ask how long a given accountant has been in the tax business and what sort of licenses or designations he or she has. Find out if he or she specializes in any specific tax issues, especially if there is one that you may need to deal with.

Naturally, you'll want to ask about fees as well. Accountants charge differing amounts depending on how much work they need to do. Check to see if any work is outsourced and if there is any review process before the return is signed. These are all important issues that you will want to check on before moving forward with a given accountant.

Finding someone to help prepare your taxes doesn't have to be difficult - as long as you're prepared and know what questions to ask, you should have no problem finding the ideal accountant for your given situation. There are plenty of highly -qualified individuals who will happily help you get your taxes filed accurately and on-time.