2020 is just around the corner and with all the excitement that comes with welcoming the new year, there’s also a worry in the back of your mind about having to file your taxes for 2019. This may seem like a daunting task to many business owners and they’re often not even sure what questions to ask a CPA to ensure that they’re properly fulfilling all of their tax obligations.

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can provide a lot of services so it’s best to be sure of what exactly you require their services for. Once you go into that meeting with a clear idea of what you require assistance with, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to come out with a plan for meeting your obligations in this tax season.


What Documents Do You Require From Me?

Your CPA can’t help you unless you provide them with the documents that they need so that they can get an accurate picture of the financial situation of your business. A key aspect of financial planning is to hire a bookkeeping service and to keep receipts of all expenses. The CPA can also identify any particular documents that you may need to provide depending on the industry you’re in. Being able to bring all of those documents to the CPA in one visit will save you both time and money.


Have You Dealt With Clients With A Similar Business Like Mine?

You should ask the CPA that you plan to work with if they have experience in dealing with the same type of business as yours. That’s because there are different methodologies for accounting and taxation for different businesses. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. So it’s always helpful to have a CPA that has relevant work experience.


Can You Identify Any Specific Tax Obligations That I Should Know About?

Many industries have specific tax obligations, like food tax in the restaurant industry and freight tax for shipping businesses.  Most small business owners, particularly those who are just starting, may not know about all of them. This is also why a CPA with relevant work experience is important for accurate tax planning.

Ask them if there are any specific tax obligations in your industry that you’re not aware of. This will not only demonstrate their knowledge about your particular industry but also show that they’re fully capable of ensuring that your business meets all of its obligations. That’s the hallmark of a good accountant.


Is There Any Way I Can Save On Taxes This Year?

A good accountant isn’t just a paper pusher. They will be able to identify legal ways to lower your tax bill. Some investments or purchases that your business made in the past year might be eligible for tax advantages. They should also be able to advise you on steps to take in the current fiscal year to save on taxes next year.

Talk to your CPA about all possibilities. They should be aware of your business is eligible for any tax credits or deductions. They will also explain to you how to go about claiming those tax advantages to lower your overall tax bill. That’s one of the major reasons why having a professional CPA do your taxes can end up saving you money in the long run.


How Do You Bill Clients For Your Services?

You will obviously not want to spend an unreasonable amount of money on a CPA for your tax returns. So it’s always helpful to be upfront about the costs with them. Ask them during the first meeting how they bill clients for services rendered.

Some CPAs only charge a flat fee for tax returns while some prefer to bill by the hour. If they charge a flat fee, do get additional details about what’s included in that fee, whether that covers one-on-one meetings and phone support, for example. You wouldn’t want to get billed by the hour for additional meetings or even emails after having paid a flat fee for a return.

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Adnan Farooqui | New York-based Adnan Farooqui has considerable experience of working with both small brick-and-mortar and online businesses to help them grow. His expertise includes content marketing, affiliate marketing and online lead generation. He has a bachelor's in English from Rutgers University.