Can we just make taxes go away?
Every year we deal with this and it feels like a forced dance where you're constantly tripping your way to the end. AND THEN at the end of the 'song' you either wind up in a beautiful bow with money flying at you...or on the floor feeling like you just got the wind knocked out of your lungs!
I think I might write the IRS a letter. It could go something like this...
No, but in all seriousness, you NEED someone to hold your hand as you 'do this dance' each year. Sure, software might be OK for individuals, but you are a business owner! You might as well be trying this dance at this point!
So I've invited my good friend Nacondra Moran, Tax Accountant and Owner of Exceptional Tax Services, to help you understand how to find an AWESOME tax preparer that really gets your business and taxes...because as you'll see, they are not all created equal!
Before I branched out to start my own business, I worked for the Internal Revenue Service for over 4 years. And let me tell you, you are not the only one that still cringes at taxes. It's truly insane how complex our Tax Code is...yes...even for me.
Even with the new Tax Reform updates,
simplification of taxes in America is still long overdue.
And if you own your own business, bookkeeping and tax planning can bring up a lot of fear as you struggle to figure it all out.
With tax law changing yearly and easy-to-overlook deductions, this can definitely contribute to a lot of confusion come filing time. You want a tax preparer that will alleviate that stress.
So how do we find the right one?
First things first...anyone and I mean ANYONE can be a tax preparer.
No really - all a person needs is a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS. No special training, no type of assessment, just the PTIN.
Anyone can get it by simply applying for it on the IRS website and once you have it, you are officially a tax preparer.
As complex as the tax code can be, you'd think there would be requirements in place to ensure proper training.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when looking for a tax preparer
1. Make sure they have a background in preparing business returns
This is a crucial question and will tell you a ton of information needed to help you make your decision!
Business and personal returns can be A LOT different!
There are many tax preparers that specialize in certain types of returns. You should make sure whoever you choose has the knowledge and skill set needed to file your return accurately.
2. Verify their credentials using the IRS's preparer directory
There are generally 4 type of tax preparers, Enrolled Agents, PTIN Individuals, AFSP Participants, and Certified Public Accounts.
Whoa...this just got complicated! Let me break it down for you ;)
Federally licensed by the IRS after passing the IRS's 3 part exam. Taxes are their specialty and they are generally well versed in tax preparation.
If you were ever audited, an Enrolled Agents would be able to represent you kind of like a lawyer represents their client in front of a judge. Pretty cool, huh?
These are the people I mentioned above. They got a number, gave themselves a title, and started taking clients. Use these tax preparers with extreme caution!
These are individuals who went beyond just getting a PTIN. They also participate in the IRS's yearly training.
They have limited rights to represent you. Generally that means they can only talk about the tax return they completed for you. But if you needed a payment plan or something outside of the scope of that particular tax year, they would be unable to represent you.
Certified Public Accountants (CPA)
A CPA is an individual who has met certain requirements, education, and experience to be licensed by their state. THey also passed a rigorous 4 part exam.
CPA's may or may not be tax experts depending on what they specialize in. CPA's expertise varies and they can perform many different roles.
They also have UNLIMITED rights to represent you.
3. Figure out if your tax preparer really understands your business industry
Many local preparers are general, taking any and everyone that comes their way!
While that's great for their business, it doesn't necessarily mean they will really 'get' your online business.
Finding a preparer that specialize in your type of business can make a huge difference in returns. They will know what to look for, more easily see if something has been missed, and not find it strange that you want to take a home office deduction!
4. Make sure they really care about you as a client
Callie's Note: I can't tell you guys how many nightmare accountants I've heard of who don't really care where they categorize your deductions. They just want to get paid and are totally OK with fudging returns to cut corners and save time.
If the tax preparer doesn't care to answer your questions or help you understand complex topics that are important to you, you should pass!
The point is that tax day can be very taxing for you! Not only financially, but also emotionally and physically. Choosing a great tax preparer can take a great deal of that stress off your shoulders!
Hopefully this info will empower you to make the best decision for you and your business.
some final pointers:
- Your signature makes you legally responsible for the information on your return.
- Make sure that you choose someone trustworthy because not only will they be preparing your tax return, but they will also have a lot of your personal information like your social security number.
- Carefully review your tax return before signing it.
- Make sure you get a copy of your tax return and have all the preparer's contact info if needed for the future.
Awesome info, Nacondra!
Listen, if you have an online business and are looking for a tax preparer, I HIGHLY recommend Nacondra! She really cares about her clients and wants to empower them by taking this pain in the ass task off their plate so they can focus on Q1 goals instead of taxes!
Check out Exceptional Tax Services!