According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than 74 million tax returns were filed with the help of a tax professional in 2020. Having a tax accountant help you file your taxes is a great and stress-free way to make sure everything is filed correctly. Your tax accountant keeps up with changing tax laws so that your taxes are always done right. However, did you know our tax accountant can do more than just prepare your taxes? You can take full advantage of all the knowledge and expertise your tax accountant has and use them as a tax advisor to help you plan your taxes throughout the year. Ask a tax accountant these questions during tax season and the rest of the year.
1. How Can You Help Me Reach My Tax Goals?
As your tax advisor, your accountant should help you reach whatever your tax goals may be. Share these goals with your tax advisor and ask them how they plan on walking you through the tax preparation process this year and in the future. Will they provide you with multiyear tax projections, wealth planning, and other relevant tax strategies? Your tax advisor should help you proactively build a forward-looking plan to alleviate uncertainties and provide a financial blueprint of how they will help you plan for and minimize future taxes.
2. What Education and Experience Do You Have?
Before you fully trust your tax advisor to give you tax advice, make sure they are qualified to do so. Ask them about what they studied in college and if they have a master’s degree in accounting or taxation. Are they a certified public accountant (CPA)? Be sure to also ask about their continuing professional education and how they keep up to date with ever-changing tax law. You should additionally make sure they have previous experience with situations that are similar to yours. Answers to these questions will tell you the level of knowledge and expertise your tax advisor has and can give you reassurance that their advice will be sound.
3. What Does Your Tax Preparation Process Look Like?
You need to make sure you and your tax planner are on the same page about the tax filing process. How will you communicate with one another about tax needs and questions? Would you prefer to set up a few meetings throughout the year and do everything in person, or are you more comfortable with communicating entirely through email or phone calls? It’s important that you set those expectations in the beginning and ensure your tax advisor will be able to work with your schedule and preferences as well as be open to frequent, year-round communication. Many tax preparers disappear from April to February, so you want to make sure your tax advisor will be available for any questions even when it’s not tax season.
4. How Will the New Tax Law Affect My Tax Plan?
Your tax advisor should be staying up to date on all the new and changing tax laws whenever they occur. If you hear about a new tax law, don’t be afraid to ask your tax advisor about how it will impact your current and future taxes. You can also ask if they know about any new changes that may be coming soon that you haven’t heard about. They should consider how changes in tax law could affect all the factors of your tax plan, including your investments, debt, retirement planning, estate planning, asset classes and location, charitable deductions, etc. You can then work together to amend your tax plan if necessary.
5. What Are Your Plans for Continuity?
You will be filing taxes for many years or even decades to come. That means some of your most important tax planning decisions won’t need to be made for a while, and there’s a chance your tax advisor may be retired before those decisions need to be determined. So, ask them about the plans they have in place to ensure continuity of advice. If they are with an accounting firm, other employees will be able to easily pick up your case after your tax planner retires. But if they are an individual accountant, then you will need to ask if they will continue to represent you in tax matters before the IRS and other tax agencies or if you will need to find a new tax professional. Knowing this years in advance will help you be able to plan for any transitions before they come.
6. What Other Services Do You Offer?
A tax advisor is typically able to help you with a lot more than just your tax returns. If your advisor is a CPA or belongs to an accounting firm, they can provide you with a wide range of accounting services, such as bookkeeping, cash flow reconciliation, and payroll administration. If your tax preparer has other letters behind their name (for example, “CFP” stands for certified financial planner, and “EA” is for enrolled agent), then that means they have additional credentials that can lend themselves to other services you could use both during and after tax season. Make sure you ask about these so you don’t have to hire a fleet of people if one person or firm can handle it all for you.
Experienced Tax Accountants at Lawhorn CPA Group
If you don’t have a tax accountant who you can trust to advise you and help with your tax planning, then turn to Lawhorn CPA Group. Our team of CPAs and tax preparers have years of accounting and tax experience that have given us the knowledge and expertise you need to help you make the best tax planning decisions. We don’t just file your taxes—we work with you to carefully create a tax saving strategy that fits your specific situation and goals. As a CPA firm, we also offer a number of other accounting and financial services such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, business consulting, IRS representation, retirement and estate planning, and much more. Find out more about all our tax and accounting services on our website. When you’re ready to start making progress toward your financial and tax goals, give Lawhorn CPA Group a call at 865-212-4867 or reach out to us online.