The relationship between you and your accountant is one of the most important business relationships you will have. As a small business owner- your tax advisor is there to not only make sure that you are filing your tax returns correctly and on time, but should also be responsible for advising you on new opportunities, government programs and changes in the tax code that may affect you and your family.
Like all long- term, business relationships it is important to periodically review your situation and determine whether or not you and your accountant continue to be a good fit. Maybe your financial situation changed or your business is evolving and you need a new suite of services to adapt to changing conditions.
So, how do you know it is time to consider a new tax advisor?
We have put together an audit (pun intended) to help you answer that question.
When was the last time your accountant...?
Emailed you to remind you that your corporate tax instalments (or some other) due date is coming up and suggested different ways the payment could be made.
Called you months before and after tax time to ask you how you and your business is doing and if there was anything you could use help with.
Followed up with you about a questions/problem/issue/plans you had raised during the last year-end to seek an update and offer additional advice or help.
Texted you to notify you of a new government program or change in tax rules that s/he thought may be beneficial or relevant specifically for your business - I am not talking about a generic newsletter sent to all clients with a laundry list of updates - and offered to give it a closer look to see if it could work for you.
Spontaneously (i.e., without you asking first) offered to connect you with another service provider that s/he thought could be beneficial/relevant to your business or family.
Ask yourself the following questions
If I have finance or tax questions outside tax season, can I get my advisor on the phone for a 15-minute chat?
Does my accountant give a clear timeline of each project (e.g., financial statements, corporate return), keep me updated on the progress of any long-term work, and give me a heads up well in advance of any delays?
Does my accountant wait for me to call them after year-end and send them my year-end information or does the accountant reach out in advance of year-end and send me a list of items and helpful templates to send my information to them once ready?
Do I sit down with my accountant (or on the phone) to go through my draft financials and corporate return well in advance of the deadline, to discuss the results and suggest any opportunities for this year or going forward?
Is there a discussion before or shortly after year-end (before financial statements or tax returns are even started) about tax-planning opportunities, alternative tax scenarios and recommended strategies for me and my business?
When I receive the invoice from the accountant, is it exactly what I expected, or at least I understand the reason for each amount billed?
Does my accountant offer flexible billing options to suit my business cycle, cash flow patterns and personal preferences or is at least open to alternatives?
How flexible and sophisticated is my accountant with technology:
e.g., can they send documents digitally, arrange digital signatures,
access my financial information directly through my cloud accounting software,
grant access a client file exchange portal access to accept and distribute documents,
effectively arrange and conduct video conferences with myself and third parties using online collaboration tools,
set up my books and train me remotely on an online platform
Access and share on-demand information of tax accounts, filings and audits.
10. Does my accountant prepare my financials and returns and do my tax planning, or at least review them, or is it all done by staff whom I have little contact with?
11. Is the accountant who prepared my taxes last year the same this year?
12. When I bring my paperwork in at year-end and talk to the accountant, how much does s/he seem to remember about my business and my family circumstances?
Honestly answering these questions should give you a clear picture of whether or not your accountant is the right partner for you and your business.
Lozynsky CPA is a boutique, full service accounting firm proudly serving clients in Southern Ontario. We specialize in helping business owners and their families achieve their financial goals. At the heart of everything we do is helping you define and achieve success. We believe that business is built at the speed of relationships and that's why we promise to devote the time needed to understand your business and provide a solution that gets you where you need to go.