Year-end is the perfect time to decide if you're with the right accounting partner. Here are the top 12 questions you should consider asking when it's time to hire an accountant, tax preparer, or accounting team for your business. 

These are not easy conversations to have but they're necessary and crucial conversations to have nonetheless because every decision is a profit decision.

1. What types of clients do you work with?

If they tell you they’ve worked with all types of businesses, that could be a red flag. If they work with all types of businesses, then they don't have any kind of specialty. Look for someone who has helped business owners like yourself move to where you want to be. 

2. What experience do you have in my field?

You want to hire a firm that understands your specific field or industry and the laws associated with it, especially when it comes to tax laws since there are all different kinds of taxes. It's one thing to just get it done to be compliant. It's another thing to create opportunities with their experience and help guide you around blind corners.

3. How accessible are you for my business? 

Be sure to have a quick turnaround time and maintain that level of service even during peak seasons like tax season, which is not easy to do. The transactions may be part of what they do but the heart of who they are should be around the relationships and services they build. 

4. What services are included and what's not included?

Ask for a clearly defined proposal that outlines all the expectations and deliverables. Once that proposal has been accepted, create an engagement letter that deals with all the finer contractual details not mentioned in the proposal. Expectations for you should be clearly defined as well. You have to decide if you can meet those expectations. 

5. What accounting methods do you use?

This gives you visibility into their methods and systems so you understand what you need to leverage for your tax piece.

6. How do you determine your rates?

Understand as much as you can about how they deal as well as how packages are calculated or calibrated and how often they deliver price increases.

7. What accounting software do you use? 

There are all kinds of accounting systems out there and the system you'll use as a business owner is the system that's best for you. 

8. What makes your business more suitable for me?

Alignment is key here. How they feel should line up with how you feel.

9. Will I have a dedicated account representative? Is there just one person who handles my business needs or will there be multiple people? 

Consider hiring a dedicated profit and tax professional that deals with higher-level things like tax planning, tax compliance, and advisory sessions. Then, also hire a client experience specialist who will handle the day-to-day connections, chat support, email support, etc.

10. What do you expect from me? 

Even though you hire people to support you in your business, there are things you must do. Be willing to listen and be coachable.

11. Do you have a PTIN?

PTIN stands for preparer tax identification number. While businesses have EINs (employer identification numbers), tax preparers have PTINs. Accountants and tax preparers have ethical responsibilities and obligations the same way business owners do.

12. What else should I have asked?

Just make sure there's an open door for the two of you to explore anything else that the questions didn't cover. Ultimately, you want to make sure you have the right person for you, for the season that you're in, and for the next season that you see yourself going into.

Remember, every decision is a profit decision and profit is measured in time, energy, and money. Hence, you want to make the best profit decision possible when choosing a partner since it’s something you can’t easily change.

If you want to learn more about questions to ask when hiring an accountant, check out Episode 065: Top 12 Questions When Hiring An Accountant

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