Clements said there are a number of questions an individual or business owner should asking while vetting prospects. Among those, what type of firm does the accountant represent, one that is aggressive or conservative when it comes to filing? In addition, does the accountant provide a one-time service, or year round advice for clients? Also, how will the client be billed for services?
When it's time to look for a tax accountant, Clements said the ideal candidate will help you save money while avoiding potential trouble with the IRS and provide useful information about your personal income or business. She advised anyone screening accountants to shop around for the best fit.
The first criteria to making a good choice is understanding the accounting firm. What kind of clients does the firm work with? Do they have experience with your type of business? In addition to business planning and tax preparation, does the firm provide tax provision preparation and cost segregation studies?
It's also important to understand the work. Who will be doing the work? Is it outscourced or will you have a personal relationship with the person preparing your return? What type of tax program does the accountant use? How do they work with multiple entities?
Clements also noted that it's important to understand the relationship. How often will you communicate with your accountant about tax issues? Do you have the ability to call and discuss issues related to taxes throughout the year? How will you be billed, by the hour or with a flat rate?
Overall, Clements said make every effort to identify an accountant who is more than just a numbers cruncher. In the end, you want someone who goes beyond the numbers to what really counts, your needs and those of your business.