Think of looking for an accountant like going on a date. You're both trying each other out, so be picky. Although hiring an accountant is undoubtedly more expensive than striking out on your own or using a computer program to do your taxes, having a person work for you translates to one-on-one care. If you're willing to pay (usually at least a few hundred dollars) to have someone else look at your taxes, then there are a few factors to consider when deciding who's best.
Here’s what to look for before you commit:
Like going out with someone who knows all your friends, trying out an accountant who comes highly recommended is the easiest way to gain a sense for who he is. Never hire an accountant you don't fully trust, as this could potentially lead to tax fraud or indiscretions with your personal information. If your friends can't refer you to an accountant, then make sure to ask relevant questions of your prospective accountant in order to gauge his or her experience.
Willingness to Help
If you’re not a tax whiz, opt for someone who’ll take the time to explain the process to you. Even if though you've hired a professional to take care of the process for you, it’s important that you understand how your taxes are being completed. You'll want to understand the process so that you can keep it in mind as you manage your finances in the future.
Doing your taxes isn’t all that an accountant does. Pick a person that will steer you in the right direction over time. For example, your accountant can work with you to plan for retirement or to reduce existing debt.
While most accountants will take the time to meet with you face-to-face, subsequent meetings are typically done via phone or email. Be sure to check out your future accountant’s online profile, and gauge his or her internet savvy by sending a few emails before committing. After all, you want to hire someone who is both committed and reachable.
Need a place to start? Visit AICPA.org to find a Certified Public Accountant.