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Finding The Perfect Tax Accountant For Your Small Business

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Hiring people can be a tedious task.

And nerve-wracking.

Time-consuming, too.

I’m not just speaking of employees.

This applies to outsourcing too.

Hiring a tax accountant is no different.

It can be even more stressful due to the important nature of the partnership.

Where do you go to find one?

You can poll friends and family.

Ask people in your online communities.

Google search is also an option.

Some people will go with the first recommendation.

Others will go with the “family accountant”.

Some business owners look for the closest accounting firm.

Neither of those is the right way to choose a tax accountant.

The easy way isn’t always the right way.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise–your tax accountant works for you.

It’s necessary to treat the hiring process the same as you would any other employee or contractor.

It’s also common for your first concern to be the cost, but these items are as important…

Caucasian male tax accountant wearing plaid button-down shirt working with Apple laptop and calculator

Tax Accountant’s Personality

Interviewing tax accountants can give you a great deal of insight into how they operate and what a working relationship will be like.

Do they seem like someone interested in just making a buck or genuinely interested in developing a relationship with you?

During your initial consultation do they listen to you or do they dominate the conversation, doing all the talking without considering your unique situation?

Are they transparent and upfront about fees and business practices?

While being comfortable with a business professional is important, you also want that tax accountant to be firm and keep you in check.

Someone who tells you only what you want to hear will do you no good compared to someone who tells you what you need to hear, especially if you run your business like your personal bank.

Be honest with yourself.

Would you really benefit more from someone who lets you walk all over them?

Like making sure you have a system in place to pay yourself properly as alluded to above?

Or will someone who says things like “You hired me for my expertise, so you need to listen to me when I tell you that you can’t buy that through your business” serve you better?

Black male tax accountant with a good personality laughing and shaking hands with East Asian male client
Knowledge and skill are important, but you need to be able to mesh personality-wise with your business partners like your tax accountant.

Understanding Your Business

You wouldn’t go to a butcher for a wedding cake.

A cardiologist for prenatal care.

Or a divorce attorney for a will.

So why would you hire a tax accountant who is unfamiliar with what you do?

Not all tax accountants understand all businesses.

Not all tax accountants will “get” businesses like digital marketing or blogging.

They may not understand website designers or social media companies.

Many tax accountants don’t understand working with contractors and issuing 1099-NEC forms.

If you are a digital nomad, you don’t want to work with a tax accountant who is old-school and requires you to meet in person.

And if you are more traditional in running your business, you don’t want to hire someone who works remotely and within a paperless environment.

Someone who can’t understand you or your business and its needs can’t possibly be expected to guide you in the right direction or account for the activities within that field.

Can they now?

Tax accountant confused over a client's ledger and invoices
Not all tax accountants “get” every type of business…you want to work with someone who actually understands what you do and also how you do it.

More Than A Bookkeeper

For paying bills and handling deposits, a bookkeeper can be very beneficial in helping to free you, as a business owner, to run your business.

But there is also a limit to what they can (possibly) do for you (depending on the person).

If you need someone to handle sales taxes, run payroll & file payroll tax returns, prepare your income taxes, and/or provide business consulting, you’re going to need a full-service accountant.

Have you ever heard the old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen?

Well, that can happen if the person you hire only handles bookkeeping duties for you.

You’d have to bring in a separate accountant to cover each of those areas.

Having too many hands mucks things up.

It can cause confusion among all of those people as each one is dependent on the others to do their respective job.

That leaves the door open for each to be in your ear trying to further their own agenda while your best interests get lost.

Communication also gets difficult.

Everything has to run through you, and you already have enough to deal with.

Finding and hiring one person who has the ability to do everything you need will make things less complicated and leave you with less to worry about.

Female bookkeeper entering receipts into the ledger on a paper nail
There is nothing wrong with someone being a bookkeeper, but sometimes you need someone who can provide more than just entering transactions.

Wrapping Up

Money always plays some part in almost every decision you make regarding your business.

You are in business to make a profit, after all.

There are times, however, when cost should be the least of your concerns, while other aspects such as compatibility and gut feeling take precedence.

Hiring an accountant happens to be one of those times, and it’s worth taking the time to go beyond the money factor to find a professional who fits your needs and personality.

Also keep in mind that women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and veteran-owned businesses can qualify for added benefits so working with an accountant who is familiar with these can be an added bonus!

Your Turn

How do you handle your small business accounting needs? Do you do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you? Why did you decide to go that route? 

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Callum Palmer
3 years ago

I do like that you caution your readers to choose an accountant that understands their business. After all, there are many digital businesses nowadays that don’t really follow previous business models. Because of this, you want to choose an accountant that can adapt and keep up with businesses in the digital age.

drake welsh
drake welsh
1 year ago

I loved your suggestion to choose a professional accountant with a personality that you like. We are needing an accountant to help us allocate our expenses this fall to help us be successful. I will be sure to choose one who has a good personality, so we could enjoy working with them.