Are you looking for a great accountant? Do you want to hire a professional who can keep meticulous records of your spending habits, look for new ways to save you money and keep up with the tax law so that you’re saving the most money during the tax season? Read on to learn about what great accountants can do for you — and learn how you can find one to help you with all of your financial needs in the future.
What is an Accountant?
An accountant has a variety of financial responsibilities to his or her clients, including:
- Examining and preparing financial documents — often in cases of preparing individual and company tax returns.
- Helping to ensure a company’s operations are running and in good standing with the state and federal governments by paying employee and other taxes on time.
- Assessing an organization’s financial health — analyzing its buying and spending habits and recommending targets for getting into better financial shape.
- Calculating taxes owed to the state and federal governments.
- Paying taxes on behalf of the client.
- Analyzing financial documents to catch errors.
At the end of the day, an accountant wants to make sure the business does not go into the red.
What Does an Accountant Do?
A big part of an accountant’s job is to be financially savvy, to be good with numbers and to have great organizational skills. Those are the kinds of top-level characteristics you are looking for in your new accountant. Those characteristics then translate to specific duties your accountant can do for you such as examining your financial records, overseeing your tax returns and advising individuals and companies on the ways they can reduce costs and increase profits. There are several types within the field — including a public accountant, who perform a more broad range of financial duties for both companies and the clients of their own firms; a government accountant, a management accountant and more. Your personal and business needs will determine what kind of accountant you need, as the different types focus on slightly different duties.
How Can I Find a Good Accountant?
To find a good accountant, you can take several routes. You can ask for advice from your financially-attuned friends, family members and colleagues. Often word-of-mouth recommendations are a great help when searching for someone as important as your accountant because if your most trusted friends and loved ones trust their accountant with all of their financial information, then it’s likely you will be able to as well. So ask around and get some advice. Get several recommendations and don’t just go with the first person someone suggests. You can make a short list and compare what each has to offer. Keep in mind your most pressing needs as well. If you want an accountant to look over your financial documents quarterly or just prepare your family’s yearly tax returns — for example. Knowing your priorities also helps you decide which accountant can best meet your needs.
You also can find out if your accountant of choice has an updated license by visiting the American Institute of CPAs. You can search for the name of your accountant on this website to determine if he or she still has the official credentials to take on your financial portfolio. In addition, many states have their own websites for looking up an accountant to verify his or her licenses are active in the states in which they are lawfully able to practice their jobs. You’ll want to take this step in the process as you are trying to decide on an accountant. It’s also worth it to look up all in a CPA firm — if you are considering partnering with a larger operation — to make sure all their staff has updated licenses. Do your due diligence and you’ll protect yourself and your nest egg along the way.
Now that you’ve gotten the basics on what it takes to be an accountant, you’re either excited or searching for accounting firms to take on your taxes for the year. A good CPA is hard to come by if you don’t choose wisely, so make sure you are asking around and getting recommendations for trusted and expert accountants. Ask your trusted friends and colleagues if their CPA or CPA firm has ever made any major blunders on their tax returns. Ask for the good and the bad about your prospective accounting firms — and hopefully you’ll find the perfect tax professional to handle all of your needs for the fiscal year.