Surfing the Sea of Tax Professionals

By Dominique Molina, CPA

How to Find the Tax Pro That’s Right For You.

Do you feel that you pay too much in tax? You’re not alone! The General Accounting Office estimates that Americans overpay their taxes by a total of almost a billion (yes, that’s billion) dollars each year!

Why do so many pay more than they have to? The main cause is mistakes and errors they, or their tax preparers make on their tax returns!

So how do you find a reliable person to keep some of that billion in your wallet? I put together the following criteria and questions to help you find the best advisor and stop giving Uncle Sam too much!

First ask yourself, what role will this advisor perform as part of your team? How much experience do they have delivering the kind of results you are looking for? What experience do they have with the specific issues you will have? Do their current clients have business experience and average income similar to yours? If you have to educate your advisor about their area of expertise, its time to look for someone new! Remember that you are paying for their knowledge, not paying them to learn!

Do they have the credentials necessary for this role? With the alphabet soup of credentials out there it can be confusing to translate those letters on the business card. At a very minimum, your professional should be a licensed preparer. In California, this means a CTEC certification. CTEC certified preparers must take a course in tax preparation and go through an application process with the state of California. You may consider using an EA, or enrolled agent. EA’s are licensed to represent taxpayers before the IRS and must take educational courses. A Certified Public Accountant or CPA, must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, have experience working for another CPA and pass a rigorous 2 day exam. Certified Tax Coaches or CTC’s are tax professionals with advanced training in proactive tax planning.

Lastly, in finding the right professional for you, determine what level of responsibility the preparer assumes for your tax returns. Professionals who put their credentials on the line provide the highest level of responsibility and will usually work as accurately as possible to protect their license. Professionals may also offer some sort of warranty for their work, which will provide reimbursement of fees paid, or other insurance to ensure you are protected from liabilities resulting from errors made.

Taking time now to find a reliable competent professional can save you BILLIONS down the road!

Dominique Molina is a licensed CPA and tax strategist. She is an experienced real estate investor and specializes in tax strategies for investors and business owners – helping them keep more of what they earn! She is the director of the American Institute of Certifed Tax Coaches with offices in Cincinnati, Ohio and San Diego, California. For more information, please visit www.CertifiedTaxCoach.com. th the alp

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