Here are some tips and steps on how to find the best C.P.A. in your area:
While many people will Google and read Google reviews, sometimes the best C.P.A.s come from referrals from family and friends.
Every paid tax preparer must have is a preparer tax identification number, or P.T.I.N. Even though anyone can apply for a P.T.I.N., that does not mean they are a good tax accountant.
The I.R.S. maintains a directory of C.P.A.s, enrolled agents, and attorneys who have current credentials recognized by the I.R.S. Search the directory by ZIP code to find a C.P.A. or credentialed tax professional near you.
Many state boards of accountancy also maintain online directories of members. Not every C.P.A. prepares taxes so you will have to verify if the C.P.A. you are looking into prepares taxes or not.
Enrolled Agents are federally licensed tax practitioners who are authorized to advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals and businesses.
Try to narrow down your options to a select few from your initial research. Then, once you have done so, then follow the next steps.
If you got the tax preparer’s name from the I.R.S. or your state board of accountancy, they should be a legitimate tax professional. However, if you got the name through a referral, then you should definitely verify their credentials.
If they are a licensed C.P.A, then you should be able to search their license number on their state Department of Professional Regulations website.
Look at your potential C.P.A. or tax preparer’s website and social media accounts to see what sorts of things they post online. Search Google, Yelp, and other platforms and read reviews posted by clients.
You want to look for red flags such as several complaints, unprofessional social media posts, or an arrest record, move on to your next candidate.
Once you have narrowed down your list even further, set up an appointment to meet or call the tax professional. Many C.P.A.s and tax professionals will meet with a potential client for free to discuss their unique tax situation and the options they have.
When you meet with a potential accountant, bring a copy of your most recent tax return. This gives the tax professional the best idea of your tax situation and can advise you on areas where there may have been a misstep or areas of opportunities in the past.
Make sure to let your tax professional know of any significant life changes you’ve experienced in the past year, for example if you got married (or divorced), had children, invested in rental property, started a business, or had any capital gains or losses in the year.Here are some key questions to ask during your meeting:
If you don’t find a tax preparer or C.P.A. near you whom you feel comfortable working with, you can look outside of the state you live in. You are not limited to use a C.P.A. whose operations are within your state. You may find the perfect C.P.A. for you outside of the state you live in.