Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing a CPA

What professional organizations does the CPA belong to and how active is he/she in those organization?

Membership in the Florida Institute of Certified Public (FICPA) is considered a mark of distinction. Each member has met stringent professional, technical, and ethical requirements including:

  1. Peer review: Members in public practice are subject to rigorous peer review of their accounting and auditing practices on a regular basis.
  2. Continuing Professional Education (CPE): Members are required to take courses that keep them current on all areas of accounting theory and practice.
  3. Code of ethics: The AICPA has established a professional code of ethics and holds members to its strict standard of practice and behavior. Any breach of this code will result in censure by the state society ethics committee and possible license revocation by state boards of accountancy.
  4. Information resources: The FICPA publishes numerous publications, offers a technical information hotline, and conducts conferences and seminars to keep members informed and up-to-date.

Are your needs compatible with the CPAs area of expertise and his/her personality?

Your CPA will act as your business advisor as well as your accountant. Compatibility can just be as important as technical proficiency in developing a long-term working relationship. Ask their references in-depth questions to discover if they have the resources that meet your needs. Ask the CPA questions to uncover how they intend to service you and/or your business. Is their approach proactive, innovative, and well planned for your present and future needs?

What are some if the services a CPA can offer you and/or your business?

Services for Individuals:

  1. Plan tax strategies and prepare tax returns
  2. Represent you before tax authorities
  3. Minimize tax liability
  4. Help plan for retirement
  5. Develop an estate plan
  6. Develop savings and investment strategies
  7. Provide litigation support services
  8. Advise you on divorce settlements
  9. Assess insurance needs

Services for business owners:

  1. Preparation of financial statements
  2. Business financing
  3. Compilation and review
  4. Initial public offerings and other SEC filings
  5. Financial planning
  6. Forensic accounting
  7. Operational reviews
  8. Business valuations
  9. Tax planning
  10. Inventory management
  11. Estate and retirement planning
  12. Product profitability analysis
  13. Design and implementation of accounting systems
  14. Litigation support

What do CPAs charge?

There are no fee schedules common to the profession. CPAs normally base their fees on the type of service you require, the time required to perform those services, the CPAs level of expertise, the complexity of the engagement, and the prevailing costs in the geographic area.

Talk to your CPA about who will be performing the majority of the work. A partner, a supervisor, and a staff accountant under the supervision of a CPA will have significantly different rates.

Will you be kept up-to-date on significant tax law changes and accounting rule changes?

Amendments made to tax laws and accounting rules can have a considerable impact on your individual and professional situation. Your CPA should make you aware of these situations as they occur, review your position, and make the necessary recommendations so that you do not incur any additional taxes at the end of the year.

How can you and/or your business get the most value from a CPAs services?

All CPAs meet comparatively the same education, training, and licensing requirements. However, they do not all provide the same range of services. Therefore, when looking for a CPA, you should analyze your current and future financial needs and select someone who can address your particular concerns. Below are some suggestions on how you can make the best use of accounting services and get the most value for your money:

  1. Be prepared to discuss your objectives, short-term, and long-term goals. CPAs are in the best position to advise you when they understand your current situation and future plans.
  2. Tell your CPA what your expectations are from him/her.
  3. Ask specific questions about any business or personal financial decisions under consideration.
  4. Save yourself unnecessary fees by keeping accurate, up-to-date records and not using professional time for routine work.
  5. Keep your CPA informed of changes in your personal life. A recent marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, a career change, or a generous bonus or profitable investment can all have a significant impact on your tax liability.

 

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