Five Signs You Need to Fire Your Accountant
Accountants are a little like shrinks. You confide almost everything about your life to them – and pay them for their expertise in managing your money. Just like doctors and lawyers, your accountant should be someone you trust.
Before you even hire an accountant, make sure he or she is certified—a CPA. Ask basic but important questions about billing policies, experience level and current licenses. Get a list of recommendations.
Much can go wrong with that connection, of course. So if you’ve noticed any of the following practices, it’s almost certainly time to say goodbye.
1. They Don’t Explain the Financial Statements
One of the biggest issues that many small business owners face is that they don’t understand their own financial statements. That’s because they never learned how to read them. This is not uncommon because except for business school, there is no formal way to learn this skill. Unfortunately, some accountants don’t help the situation. They would rather keep the owner in the dark due to some misguided way of maintaining job security.
If this is the case, find an accountant that will explain your financial statements to you in a way you can understand. They should also teach you how to use the reports in your accounting program so you can get information for yourself every month.
2. They Don’t Help Maximize Deductions
In the end, the owner signs off on his or her tax return and must be comfortable with the treatment of deductions for their business. Some accountants are too aggressive while others are too strict. Get enough information from the accountant to make an educated decision. Give them examples of tax recognition and deduction methods that the company has used in the past. Get permission to talk to owners in similar industries to see if they take advantage of specific deductions.
3. You Aren’t Getting What You Paid For
Small business owners need to look at the overall value they are receiving for their accounting expenses. If you’re worrying about the cost of every minute you talk to the accountant, then you aren’t getting the value you deserve. In most small businesses, accounting expenses should not exceed $10,000 a year, and the value should be ten times that.
4. They Always File Tax Returns Late
If the company always files their tax return late because the accountant does not have time to complete it, now is the time to move on. If your accountant can’t provide you with a quarterly financial statement analysis in a timely manner, this is another signal.
5. They Don’t Respond in a Timely Fashion and Haven’t Entered the Digital Age
If your accountant’s customer service stinks or he or she can’t get paper work filed in a timely manner, then it’s time to move on. If you’re tech savvy but your accountant is still asking you to fax your tax receipts, it’s time to find a professional with at least an email address and a website.
The bottom line is that if you’re uncomfortable or believe your accountant is doing a lousy job – don’t hesitate to end the relationship and move on. These are your taxes, after all.
What is the best time of year to fire an accountant? Do it right after taxes are due in March. This enables the new accountant to start with a new fiscal calendar year. If things just can’t wait, then do it at the beginning of a quarter.