5 Signs It’s Time to Break Up With Your Accountant
Kristin Delfau, EA| Her Money Solutions | KNOW Sarasota
“My CPA makes me feel stupid. And they never answer my emails.” Once I mention that I am a tax professional, I hear these comments frequently. Often, strangers then start spilling their fears, worries and frustrations. And then we have the talk – is your accountant really that bad? Is it worth the hassle of finding a new one?
Breaking up with your tax person can be like leaving any relationship that has gone sideways. Here are some signs that it is time for the “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation:
1. You are always the one having to initiate contact. When it feels like you are doing all the heavy lifting, it’s probably time for a new tax person. At the very least, your tax person should be contacting you in January with a “here’s what’s new” and “tax topics to watch out for” email. Many tax professionals will use organizers or checklists to help you gather your documents. This helps them process your information more efficiently with less back-and-forth about missing documents.
2. They make you feel stupid. Look, none of us know the answers to everything. We are all learning as the tax laws are constantly changing! A good tax person will not only listen to and answer your questions but also train you to ask questions that could affect your tax situation. You should not be shamed for trying to understand – there ARE good tax people out there ready to help you succeed rather than tear you down.
3. They don’t ask questions. I have maybe one tax return per season where I don’t have follow-up questions. Whether it is because there are deductions last year that aren’t in the documents this year or missing income statements, your tax person should be asking questions. Also, if you are self-employed, they should be taking a look at your expenses compared to the prior year and asking about retirement contributions, at minimum.
4. …And don’t answer yours. We tax people get super busy between January through April, so we can easily miss emails buried in our inboxes. However, if you resend your questions multiple times and cannot get answers, then your CPA may be overstretched and it is time to find someone new. Same goes for when you email them in the offseason and can’t get answers then either.
5. If you owe, they can’t or don’t explain why. One thing I have prided myself with clients is that if you owe, I owe it to you to figure out why and give you options to mitigate paying as much the next year (if owing bothers you). Your tax person should be able to clearly explain your tax bill—preferably via email so that you can reference why later. Telling you “You owe $20,000 and this is why” over the phone results in hearing “owe $20,000” and then your attention has drifted away.
So you’ve decided it is time to part ways with your tax person. Now what? Where to find a new one? Uncle Bob’s cousin’s hairdresser’s nephew who does taxes on the side is almost guaranteed to generate an IRS love note.
Instead, try one of these two industry-specific organizations that I can promise you you’ve never heard of if you aren’t a tax person:
NATP (National Association of Tax Professionals www.natptax.com)
NAEA (National Association of Enrolled Agents www.naea.org)
Both are groups that tax professionals join for continuing education, community and support in our profession. Both sites have links to find a preparer based on location and specialty. Sort of like a Tinder for tax people, minus the photos and potential romance. From here, you can Google them and see if they are a potential good fit before you initiate contact.
The best times of year to contact a new tax person are the following, in this order: November, January, June. Even early February as well. Here’s to finding your new tax soulmate who will make you feel heard and be an advocate for you as well as your business.
Learn more about how I can help you understand your taxes in plain English – a new round of Deducted! starts January 11, 2023. Find it here: https://www.hermoneysolutions.com/programs
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