Don’t delay finding a CPA

As the calendar turns to a new year, many small businesses start thinking about taxes. If you already have a CPA, great! If not, don't delay.

Certified Public Accountants are insured, have a code of ethics, and are, well, certified. Some work in specific industries, some have a focused niche, but any CPA is bound by professional ethics when completing a tax return for any client.

You have until around March 1st to find a CPA that will consider taking on your tax returns. After that, it might be difficult to find a qualified CPA who wants to take on new business. That can be a smoother process, however, if your records are already organized. If that's the case, you are in a position to hand off good financial statements to a tax preparer.

Many sole proprietors include a Schedule C with their personal return that is due April 15. But if your business is organized differently, your return may be due March 15.

If you find someone in early March who is willing to work on a return that is due March 15, they are probably going to charge you an extra fee; that, or they’re taking on the work because they don’t have anything else to do. (And you may want to ask yourself why.) However, if an available CPA is building a new business, it could be an opportunity to build a relationship that will benefit you both.

The CPA will ask you to sign an agreement acknowledging that you are responsible for the accuracy of the financial statements, and that tax returns will be filed based on those statements. They may have questions if there is missing information, but they don't analyze every transaction; that's why good, ongoing record keeping is important.

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