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 self-employed individuals, please contact our office today at (727) 391-7373.