Accountants keep your financial records accurate and up-to-date while tracking and analyzing your finances. To get started, you have to know what questions to ask an accountant. It doesn't matter if you've worked with your accountant for years or this is your first meeting, make sure you know what questions to ask.
How should I prepare for tax season?
You can hire an accountant to file business taxes for you. Among other tasks, this includes filing your accounting forms and paying your taxes.
Ask your accountant what information you need to gather ahead of time so that filing your taxes will be easier for both of you. You can also ask them how you can better organize your records to make tax filing easier. It will take your accountant less time to prepare your tax forms if your records are organized.
You can ask your accountant questions like:
- What are the latest changes to tax law that affect my business?
- When should big equipment purchases be made?
- What is the best way to keep track of deductions?
- What can I do to maximize my tax savings?
Get answers to all of your tax questions well in advance of the April 15 deadline. You may want to ask your accountant to help you gather accounting data and documents throughout the year to avoid the year-end rush.
What area of my business should be my top priority?
The priorities of small business owners shift frequently. As an employer, you may be responsible for managing workers and contractors, marketing products and services, serving clients, and hiring.
Would you like to focus more attention on certain areas of your business but lack the time or energy to do so because you're constantly prioritizing other tasks? Ask your accountant about what specific tasks you should prioritize.
There may be some tasks on your plate that aren't as urgent as you thought or others that you need to delegate.
What records should I keep?
In order to file taxes, measure profitability, and secure funds, you need to keep track of business records. Aside from that, you should always keep records handy in case of an audit. You can ask an accountant which documents you should keep.
If you’re wondering what documents you need to file records away for safekeeping, ask your accountant. Examples include:
- Business tax returns
- Financial statements
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Business agreements
- Business licenses and permits
- Insurance documents
- Payroll records
Helpful Resource: Save It or Shred It: How Long To Keep Your Important Financial Documents
Recordkeeping can be simplified by having both paper and digital copies. Make sure they are stored securely (in a locked filing cabinet, for example).
How can you help me grow my business?
The goal of every business is to grow in some way. Perhaps you want to open up a second location. You may also want to expand your offerings. Ask your accountant how they can help your business grow when you talk to them.
Accountants specialize in financial and tax matters. Consequently, they know where to find growth opportunities and what things to avoid. Having an accountant track your financial progress can help you identify what's holding your business back. Additionally, they can help you forecast your cash flow so you can better plan for future expenses and opportunities.
What changes could I make that would help my business?
In spite of the fact that your accountant is not your business coach or financial advisor, they have extensive knowledge of taxes and finances, and they know your business. The financial data you collect every day is also something they understand and can analyze.
It's easy to get so caught up in day-to-day operations as a small business owner that you don't take the time to plan for the long term. Spend some time planning with your accountant. Your organization and handling of your finances will improve as you schedule regular meetings with your accountant. It's a great step towards a healthier business for any small business owner.
Accountants can give you some good advice and steer you in the right direction. Analyze your business regularly with the help of your accountant. By doing so, they can see where improvements can be made and what changes you can make to make your business more successful.
What business expenses can I deduct?
You may be able to reduce your tax bill by deducting certain business expenses if your business has the right type of expenditures.
- Business use of car
- Business travel
- Home office
- Employee expenses
- Charitable contributions
Your accountant can tell you which deductions your business is eligible for. Depending on your situation, they can explain to you the specific rules you need to follow. As an example, the effect of joint ownership on a home office claim.
Helpful Resource: What are business expenses? - Guide
You can also ask your accountant for a calculator or template to easily record and keep track of your business expenses. It is much easier to stay on top of this throughout the year than to scramble to find receipts as the tax deadline approaches.
What are your most successful clients doing?
A majority of accountants work with a variety of business clients. There are some who are extremely successful; there are others who are doing well; and there are those who are struggling.
What are the top 10 things your accountant sees their clients doing to be successful?
It is a good question to ask, and even picking up just one idea that you could utilize to improve results is worth it.
What do you expect from me each year?
It is important to ask this question because if you understand what the accountant expects from you, then you will be able to provide them with the information they need to provide accurate, efficient services.
Providing complete, honest records and answers on time will always be expected of you. In addition to the main expectations for their clients, accountants and firms often have supplemental expectations that, if left unsaid, can lead to unsatisfactory returns or clients.
When you first work with your accountant, it is always better to do your due diligence on what they will expect from you. A list like this can help you ensure that you are getting the type of service you want, need, and deserve.
What are some things I should consult with you about on an ongoing basis?
You need to consult with your accountant more often than just once a year in order to develop a valuable relationship with them. Using this question will allow you to determine which issues in your business come up regularly that you can address with them.
They will be able to help you make many business decisions, such as whether to buy or rent office space, hire a full-time employee or a contractor, or lease or rent equipment.
Your business will be significantly impacted by these decisions, so it is worthwhile to make them right the first time.
What else do I need to know but did not ask?
In this final question, the accountant can fill in any gaps you might have missed. You will be able to round off your conversation while getting some more valuable advice from your accountant.
Having the right accountant isn't just about crunching numbers; they're one of your most important collaborators. The best results come from asking the right questions.
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