Are You Smarter Than a CPA?

How do you know you have a great CPA or tax preparer?

“Jim” looked confused when we first met. “I think my taxes are wrong,” he said. The return looked good in its expensive binding, and it was a from well-known CPA firm, and there was an invoice for $1,340.

I started asking questions. “My CPA has never asked me any questions,” Jim related. We continued to ask questions many times over the next two weeks, as we consider the client’s financial affairs as if they were our own. Net result: legal tax savings of $14,000 (FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS), a lot of money to anyone. Our fee was substantially less than the other guys.

So, in this case, Jim was smarter than a CPA.

My profession is completely different from anyone else. For example, you go to the doctor, and he cures you, you figure he must be competent. You engage a realtor, and she sells your home, she must be talented. But, how do you know your CPA/tax preparer is really good? Unlike all other professions, unless the client were an experienced preparer themselves, they would have NO IDEA.

Many tax preparers are not certified or trained. It is not regulated. Approximately 67% of all returns the IRS tests each year are wrong. Most CPAs are extremely competent, experienced and concerned, but operate their practice like the dry cleaners: you drop the stuff off, and then you pick it up when it’s done. How do you know it’s a return well done?

Here are 7 tests to consider as to whether you are being served:

1. They interview you in person: there may be many things that come up that are not bled out with mere tax organizer forms.

2. They ask you a lot of questions, often many times during the process over days or weeks.

3. Each return is thoroughly reviewed by someone very skilled other than the person who prepared the return. We actually do each return twice, which is highly unusual.

4. They look for every possible way to save you money legally.

5. They explain what they have done, understandably, when you pick up the return – preferably in person. Where did they save you taxes?

6. They tell you what you need to do to save money moving forward

7. They ask about your financial well-being and savings for retirement.

How did yours do? All 7 or even 6 correct? Keep them forever.

And then there are those folks that do their own return. Okay if it’s just a W-2 and an interest statement. However, over 95% of returns we see that have been self-prepared are wrong (unless they are just very simple).

In these economic times we must save every dollar we can anywhere. Are you tired of paying taxes you might not have to?

Allan Boress, CPA is accepting new clients. Call them to set a free, no-obligation appointment.

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