How do I know my preparer is qualified?
Professional designations such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) are a start. Preparers who have these qualifications have more education and are required to take more continuing education each year. Then it is important to ask questions and make sure your preparer really is familiar with small businesses and a number of their clients are in your same situation.
What about the big 4 accounting firms?
Surely there are many small businesses who have had good experiences using those firms. However, we have seen a lot of clients who have gotten "lost in the cracks" by the big firms, that didn't really look out for their interests as their business was considered too small to be taken seriously. Finding the tax firm that is the right fit and will look out for your individual interests is key.
What about self-preparation?
Self-preparation is almost as efficent as using a paid preparer for 80% of all taxpayers. With high quality software you likely can figure out much of what is needed, and we encourage that. We specialize in the difficult issues that the other 20% run into, or helping taxpayers out who are simply uncomfortable filing their own returns and want the assurance of having a return backed by our Audit Guarantee.
How important is face-to-face communication?
It is paramount that you have good communication with your tax preparer regardless of if that communication is in person, over the phone, or via emails. Sometimes meeting in person can be a distraction from the process and it is easy to forget questions you wanted to ask or an income or expense entry. We've found that the process often works smoother and a surprising amount of rapport can be developed with only an online connection for tax preparation. However, some people are more comfortable with this than others and it is not for everyone.