Just because you are organized and have filed your business receipts alphabetically does not mean that you should do your own taxes. Your methods might not be as "valued" by the IRS as they are by your checkbook and that which started out as a cost-saving measure in the beginning could cost you big bucks in the end. At the end of the day, you cannot bring your accounting skills under your own legal protection the way that a CPA can and the IRS is pretty serious about ensuring their stringent rules are followed.
CPA's are a great asset to any company. Especially real estate investors and rental property owners. In fact, they are pros at saving money for their clients and searching for financial strategies and advantages that will only place you in a stronger position financially than if you attempt to do your taxes yourself.
IPS cares about you. Therefore, we care about your taxes. Here are four questions you should answer as you interview your future accountant:
The first questions you should ask any accountant before hiring them is whether or not they specialize in real estate. You want to find a professional who not only recognizes problems with your taxes, as there will be some from time to time, but who has encountered such speed bumps many times. This means they will best be qualified to rectify any issues quickly and legally and their methods will be more cost-effective than an accountant who works with medical professionals.
Don't be shy! Ask candidates where they went to school, with whom they have trained and whether they are accredited by and for specific tasks and agencies. Dig deep! Passing a CPA exam does not instantly make for a great accountant. Learn the experienced behind the trade and find out whether they aced the exam or simply squeaked by. You want your accountant to be committed to learning; to always be educating themselves and to be in the know when it comes to the most recent IRS rule changes, latest tax advantages and all things financially related.
Perhaps one of the most important qualifiers to hold for a potential accountant is whether or not they have good referrals from past or current clients. Do they have long standing professional relationships? What is the average length of time they have retained a single client? Are they connect to realtors, investors, mortgage brokers or property management companies? Ask for a list of clients with whom you may speak in order to better learn about how a specific candidate works. Look for things that are exceptional or epic failures. In addition, you might come across a past client who advises against using a particular CPA. That, alone, is well worth the phone call.
In addition to checking out past client referrals, it is also important to look at online reviews. Some people speak more freely online than over the phone, so you might find more detailed information by doing a little online digging. Also, check with the BBB and local Chamber of Commerce. You can google CPA associations for reviews and find out whether your candidate is in good standing and respected among colleagues.
Be sure to take your time searching for the right fit in order to avoid costly mistakes in the long run!