How to Find a Good Accountant

If you are like most people, you have probably been confused about who you should hire to help you prepare your tax return.  Just as doctors have areas of expertise, so do accountants.  If you chose the wrong accountant, it could cost you thousands in missed or incorrect deductions.  If you own a small business, here are some of the questions you may want to ask a potential accountant:

  • What are your credentials?  Look for someone with a special designation, such as CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or an attorney.
  • Do you practice tax accounting full time?  The answer should be yes.
  • How many years have you been in practice?  You don’t want someone new to the accounting profession experimenting on you.
  • What computer software do you use to prepare returns? If the returns are handwritten, you should probably leave.
  • What are your fees?  Cheap is not necessarily better.  You often get what you pay for!
  • Do you have any references from clients similar to me?  You should not expect the accountant to give out names of clients, but he or she should have some happy clients who would be willing to speak to you.
  • Do you consider yourself to be aggressive, assertive or somewhere in the middle? 
  • Do you specialize in small business tax returns?  Hopefully, the answer is yes!
  • What do you do after tax season?  Some good answers would be that the accountant does other accounting work, markets for new customers and takes tax courses.
  • Do you provide any tax courses or tax planning during the year?  The more the better!
  • How many other clients like me do you have?  The accountant should have at least 10 clients similar to you and your situation.

About the author

Seattle CPA+John Huddleston has written extensively on tax related subjects of interest to small business owners. Since 2002, he has owned his own small business, Huddleston Tax CPAs. He is a graduate of Washington State University and the University of Washington School of Law.