How do you vet a tax preparation professional?
Whether you’re looking for someone to help you plan your finances or prepare your taxes, there are countless options out there to choose from. The decision to hire someone best suited for your tax situation can become overwhelming. With over ten tax seasons under my belt, here are some of the most important qualities I’d look for in a prospective tax preparation professional or business advisor:
Certified Public Accountant
I would give the CPA credential the heaviest consideration out of this entire list of qualifications. The CPA is a license earned by professionals in order to provide accounting services to the public. Becoming a CPA requires over 150 credit hours of education completed, in addition to passing a four-part exam. It is a rigorous standard, and completion of this certification means you are speaking with a trusted financial advisor. I’ve received my full CPA license, which means I also have at least two years of auditing experience.
IRS and FTB Experience
Does your prospective tax professional have experience working with the Internal Revenue Service and Franchise Tax Board? I have built rapport over the years with both the IRS and FTB, and I have extensive experience working with both agencies to resolve clients’ tax issues.
Continuing education boosts credibility and increases the confidence you have with a tax professional who possesses the right knowledge to effectively help you with your personal and business needs. For example, is the prospective tax professional you’re considering an enrolled agent with the IRS? Do they have degrees from respected institutions? I received my Master’s in Taxation from Golden Gate University, and I am enrolled with the IRS. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from UC-Berkeley.
Time is money, so you may also find it worthwhile to work with a tax professional that has efficient, transparent systems set up to best communicate with you. For instance, I utilize the best tax software available and a secure, confidential client portal to create a premium client experience. Last but not least, are you speaking with someone whom you feel comfortable asking detailed questions? It’s important to hire someone who is approachable and with whom you feel trust.
Your finances are the foundation of your life and your future. I have all of the qualifications above—and more, and I’d love to chat with you to see how I can best help you plan your best year yet.