‘Tis the Season (for taxes): How to find the perfect person to handle your small business taxes
For those of us living the iMarketer life, tax season can be a particularly daunting time. We’re just guessing here, but we are not number people, and we’re betting you’re not either. Deductions! 1099s! Quarterly estimates! Yeah, small business taxes are not for the faint of heart.
But the good news is — you don’t have to be the expert here. Do you fix your own brakes and rotate your own tires? No! You take your car to a mechanic. Do you cut your own hair? Hopefully not! Point is: there are times when you call in the professionals, and tax season is one of those times.
To get you started, here are a few tax tips for small businesses like yours.
Don’t rush it
You don’t need to hire the first accountant you come across. Hopefully, this will be the start of a long-term relationship. Ideally, your accountant will become more than the person who files your taxes each year; he or she will become a trusted advisor in all areas of your small business finances.
If you’re not sure where to begin to find such a person, ask around. The next time you’re rocking your professional-networking game at a Chamber of Commerce event or a small business mixer, strike up a conversation with the gal next to you. Who does she use? Would she recommend them — why or why not?
It’s a great ice-breaker question, and you could walk away with a solid referral. (And, as a bonus, it’s a good reason to reach back out to her and thank her, solidifying your connection! Two birds, one stone.)
Meet and greet
Once you’ve got a few names, sit down with each one for an interview, just like you would with a potential employee or subcontractor. Ask them about their experience working with small businesses; that’s going to be key in ensuring they know how to help you get alllllll the possible deductions.
Also, ask them whether they’ll be your main contact each and every time because, again, you want that one-on-one relationship going forward. Don’t forget to find out whether they do more than tax preparation and if there are other services they can offer or suggest throughout the year, such as managing the books or advising on growth planning or risk assessment. Throughout the conversation, you’ll start to get a feel for whether you’re jelling and can envision working with them over the long-haul.
Keep in mind that these meetings could be harder to schedule this time of year with the tax filing deadline looming. In a perfect world, summer is the best time to conduct interviews in preparation for the following year. But most quality tax professionals will find a way to fit you in if you’re in a pinch.
Naturally, you’ll want the highest quality you can get for the lowest possible cost. Avoid the big CPA firms; their prices are sky-high. On the other hand, the little H&R Block stand at the local Walmart won’t do either because you’re not likely to ever see the same person twice.
Consider looking for a solopreneur like yourself. Someone with a small accounting practice who has experience and affordable prices would be a great fit. If you live in a big city, you might look slightly outside your area to a smaller town. Oftentimes, those folks are half the price with double the experience — that’s worth the extra gas mileage once or twice a year.
Remember to take your time. The numbers game might be boring, but getting the right tax person on your side is critical for the financial health of your business.