Comparing Small Business Accountants: 4 Features to Look At

Small business accountants are vital to the entrepreneur. Not only will they file your taxes, but good small business accountants provide important advice, such as how to structure your company for the best tax advantage. When you are comparing small business accountants, you will need the right financial partner for your firm, and should consider the following:

CPA vs. Non-CPA

Not all people who can monitor your books and file taxes are Certified Public Accountants. A Certified Public Accountant has passed a rigorous, multipart, 14-hour exam and has at least one year of professional practice. (Some states require more than one year.)

Choosing small business accountants instead of CPAs doesn’t guarantee that you have the right qualified professional for your particular business. But you will know that person has demonstrated the skills required for certification by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and that is worth something.

Local vs. National

Small business accountants can be local one-man shops or be a part of large regional or national firms. The advantage of choosing small business accountants locally is these are typically very small firms. They will know you and your specific financial circumstances. They are also accustomed to dealing with small businesses that have limited financial staffs. These firms often charge less than regional or national firms. Additionally, they can be more flexible to work on your schedule because they have greater control of their time, being small business people themselves.

Despite costing more, small business accountants from regional or national firms have advantages, too. These accountants can draw on the resources of a large organization to find answers for any tax questions you might have. In the Internet age, it’s likely even the smallest small business is doing business in multiple states. Small business accountants from larger firms can draw on resources nationwide.

Specific Industry Knowledge

Even if you are selecting from between small business accountants from local firms, make sure you choose the one with the most industry-specific knowledge. You know your business, but you need a qualified accountant who knows not only about the proper tax treatment of your business, but who also knows accounting systems that make the most sense for you.

Additionally, tax laws and regulations are changing all the time. This is not limited to federal tax guidelines. Remember, states, counties, cities and even school districts can levy taxes. You need a small business accountant who is on top of these changes. The best small business accountants will be on top of these changes for businesses just like yours.

The Importance of References

All small business accountants you interview should be happy to provide you with references. You want at least three and you need to speak to each of them. Preferably, you want people in your industry who are not direct competitors. It should be a major red flag if any of the small business accountants you are considering are reluctant on this point.

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