Question: I’ve had CPA/accountants over the years, used my family’s accountant for ages, then tried tax software but always worried I was doing something wrong or missing something. What do I need to know as a freelancer when looking for a tax preparer? I want to do it right this time!
Answer from Richard M. Prinzi, Jr., CPA & Co-Founder of F-Sharp Tax Services: How to hire a tax preparer in 2018:
Find someone with industry experience. This is easy to do. Just ask colleagues in your industry who they use and how much they like working with their tax professional. Best place to start. From that pool of referrals, interview the tax professionals and ask about the issues you face when filing your taxes. If they talk about how they generally address these issues and seem knowledgeable, that should bring you more comfort.
The two other biggest considerations to inquire about are tax professionals’ audit experience and professional credentials. Personally, I would never hire a tax professional who does not handle audits for their clients or those who provide those services to taxpayers who did not use their services to prepare the return. Tax professionals do not make money on audit services in general. The good professionals will consider the aggravation and cost of providing audit services as part of their continuing education. I would much prefer to take advice about fighting in a war from a high school dropout veteran than someone with an Ivy League PhD in warfare who never wore the uniform.
With that said, a CPA will usually give you the best option. A CPA is someone who put the time, money and effort into achieving and maintaining the profession’s highest credential. If you want the best odds of getting the other more important aforementioned factors, a CPA is often your best bet, but ONLY if they meet the other requirements. The CPA credential is not a guarantee that you are hiring the right professional for you. That is my opinion as a CPA.