Tax time is over for another year. Phew!
Did you swear this was the last year you'd have the hair-tearing, math-heavy, where-is-the-box of-wine-to-calm-my-nerves weekend sorting through your financial life? You're not alone.
Now that tax season is over, it's a good time to start looking for an accountant. Here are three tips to manage your search for a tax professional or certified accountant.
Call Backs Are Key
Choose a professional who returns your calls promptly. Sure, cut them a little slack during the heaviest weeks of tax season. That is why May is the perfect time to pick up the phone. Be sure to seek out someone who welcomes your calls. Seems obvious, right? You'd be surprised. It took me three pros to find one who was willing to talk with me at length. Keep dialing until you do.
Seek Substance Over Style
Just hiring a numbers professional does not mean the job is done. To really maximize your use of— and relationship with—your tax professional, make sure you are as educated as a non-pro can be on topics relating to your specific situation. This allows you to say, "I've read about XYZ approach and think it sounds appropriate. What do you think?"
Don't care to be that proactive? Then make sure you find someone you can trust, and read up on any unusual recommendations that they send you. In other words you shouldn't blindly sign something when your "professional" says, "I think we should structure this as a Ponzi…" (This tip is doubly-important if your pro also sells investments.)
Keep In Touch
Found a great accountant or tax professional? Great. Now make sure you keep them informed every year about life changes that may impact your finances. Life events such as children , divorce, inheritance, home purchase, or starting a business all can influence your tax return. Updates ensure your tax professional knows your situation and has your best interests in mind. Sometimes these changes reveal new ways to structure your taxes. So send add a name to your holiday card list at the very least, it will pay off to do so.
In summary: Find someone you can trust who returns your calls. Keep yourself accountable to your accountant because you're ultimately responsible for your return. Keep your pro in the loop is your best bet for best results. Here's to a less stressful tax season next year!
If you found these tips helpful, check out these related Geezeo groups: Grim Reaper: Death, Taxes, Wills, etc. and Bookkeeping Women.