An accountant is a professional who takes care of all the detailed and essential numerical tasks that are involved with running a business. An accountant should know how to record business transactions and prepare financial documents such as tax returns and monthly financial statements for a business. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accountant who performs these duties and also meets the educational and experience requirements of the state where he or she practices. A CPA must pass the state’s two-day CPA examination, maintain biennial continuing education requirements including ethics, and be regulated by the state Board of Accountancy.
In other words, there is a big difference between an accountant and a CPA. All CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs. While a CPA can’t make business decisions for you, a CPA can offer helpful advice and provide these services:
- Tax advice and planning: To help your business save on taxes now and plan for future tax situations.
- Tax review and representation: To help find any problems with your tax returns before the IRS does and represent you before the IRS if any tax problems occur.
- Payroll administration: To make sure employees get paid and to file all the required payroll reports on time.
- Bookkeeping: To review and analyze the financial statements prepared by you, train your staff to use QuickBooks, or else prepare the financial statements for your business on a monthly or quarterly basis.
- Business startup: To recommend the form of business organization for your business and the steps needed to form an organization in your state.
- Business advising: To help you to analyze your business, make recommendations for improving cash flow, planning, budgeting, and internal control, and serve as a sounding board for your business ideas.
As you can see, a CPA can help your business with much more than recording numbers or filing tax returns.
Most CPAs provide a free initial consultation. In this meeting, you’ll need ask the CPA several questions to get to know him or her and the CPA practice, such as:
- How long have you been a CPA?
- Where have you worked prior to setting up your firm?
- Are you available year-round?
- Can you represent me if I have a tax problem with the IRS?
- Who will I be working with?
- How do you bill for your services?
- Will you explain financial issues to me in a way that I can understand them?
Hiring an ethical CPA that you can trust is an important business decision. To learn more about our CPA services for small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals, please contact our office today at (727) 391-7373.