Frequently Asked Questions:
Why do I need a CPA to do my individual tax return?
Life is not always easy, and tax law is almost always complicated. A family of even moderate income encounters complexity with filing status, dependent qualification, taxable versus gross wages, dividends and capital gains taxed at alternate rates, restrictions on eligibility and deductibility of IRAs, limits and phaseouts of itemized deductions, alternative minimum tax, child credits, education credits, nanny taxes, and underpayment penalties (to name a few). Preparing a return without tax preparation software is possible, but not recommended. (That’s why the IRS sends you a 130 page booklet.) Purchasing, installing, and learning tax preparation software such as TurboTax or TaxCut is certainly an option – but so is cutting your own hair or replacing the roof on your house by yourself.
What services do you offer for businesses?
The general framework is “Services to enable you to focus on running your business rather than spending your time on bookkeeping and compliance.” The services provided will vary according to the needs of each business, but will encompass the following at a minimum:
- Selection of the best entity (proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, C corporation, or S corporation.)
- Appropriate registrations
- Accounting system setup
- Tax planning for the business and owner
- Tax returns
CPAs, like doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, and real estate brokers, all possess a certain level of technical ability to obtain their certifications. Even after passing the licensing exams and meeting the continuing education requirements, each individual is unique. Think about doctors for a moment– some are general practitioners, some specialize in pediatrics, and some are heart surgeons. Which doctor you should engage depends on your needs. CPAs function in the same way.
Next year will mark 40 years of accounting and tax work, both as a public accountant and in industry. My industry experience includes very small, startup companies to a multinational corporation. I’ve experienced first-hand the rewards and difficulties of both small startups and large, slow-moving organizations.
What is the most important factor I should consider in selecting a CPA?
The true value of a CPA is best measured over a period of years, when you can look back and see the times when he pro-actively looked out for your best interests, whether it was setting up your business, planning for your kids’ education, reviewing a proposed investment, or planning for retirement. To get the maximum benefit from your CPA, you need a long-term relationship, and the most important factor in choosing a CPA is the quality of the communication between you and the CPA. What comprises effective communication? Usually it’s easier to describe what isn’t effective – for example, if his answers don’t seem to match up to your questions. Or he may seem to always talk down to you, or seem indifferent to your needs, or doesn’t return your phone calls. You’ll know effective communication when you experience it. How well do I communicate? Pick up the telephone and you can be the judge.
Are there services you don’t offer?
Certainly. Some services I cannot provide in a cost-beneficial way to you. For example, you don’t want to pay me to pay your vendors each month or to make your bank deposits. I don’t have the manpower to conduct large-scale audits, and don’t want to bring in outside contractors to work on them. But – I will tell you up front when I’m not willing to provide a service, and work with you to find a cost-effective solution. Sometimes the alternate solution is training you or your employee; sometimes I will refer you to someone who can meet your needs better.
Which geographic areas do you serve?
My primary service focus is centered on the towns of Carrollton, Coppell, Flower Mound, Grapevine, Highland Village, Southlake, and Lewisville, but maintain clients outside this area as well. If you happen to live in Hawaii, I’d certainly like to visit you!
How do I obtain your services?
Step 1: Contact me. Email is usually the best way to reach me. Send me your phone number and best times to call; I’ll confirm the time via email and make sure I have time available for you without interruption. If you prefer, call me at (214) 415-2312, but note that during tax season, I’m often in meetings and can’t take your call immediately. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible. (And, if you are the person I’m meeting with, be happy I didn’t interrupt your time! ).
Step 2: Initial meeting. This is a brief, free of charge meeting where we discuss your needs, and ways that I can help you. If there are needs that I cannot address (for example, legal or insurance issues), I will provide referrals.
Step 3: Data gathering. Assuming we both decide to move forward, I will list items needed from you. (For example, last year’s tax returns, 1099s, etc.) This allows you time to find and organize your information so I can work more efficiently – which results in lower fees for you as well.
Step 4: I provide the initial service (for example, preparing your tax returns). During this time I may need to contact you to clarify information. Upon completion, I will send your completed work along with an invoice for services.
Step 5: Follow up. Completion of the tax return does not usually end the work for the year. I will send reminders of due dates if applicable, and be available for questions all year.
Patience is a virtue. Send me an email, then download a blank organizer to fill out as best as you can before we meet.
CPAs, like all providers of personal financial services, are required by law to inform their clients of their policies regarding privacy of client information. CPAs have been and continue to be bound by professional standards of confidentiality that are even more stringent than those required by law. Therefore, we as a profession have always protected your right to privacy.
Types of Nonpublic Personal Information I Collect
The firm collects nonpublic personal information about you that is either provided to the firm by you or obtained with your authorization.
Parties to Whom I Disclose Information
For current and former clients, I do not disclose any nonpublic personal information obtained in the course of my practice except as required or permitted by law. Permitted disclosures include, for instance, providing information to my employees and, in limited situations, to unrelated third parties who need to know that information to assist in providing services to you. In all such situations, I stress the confidential nature of information being shared.
Protecting the Confidentiality and Security of Current and Former Clients’ Information
The firm retains records relating to professional services that I provide so that I am better able to assist you with your professional needs and, in some cases, to comply with professional guidelines. In order to guard your nonpublic personal information, I maintain physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards that comply with our professional standards.
Please call if you have any questions, because your privacy, my professional ethics, and the ability to provide you with quality financial services are very important to me.