Choosing a Tax Professional: Five Things You Need to Know

Taxes seem to get more complicated every year, and they also seem to take a bigger bite out of your wallet. That’s why it’s important to get the best advice when you’re ready to tackle your annual tax return. The Massachusetts Society of CPAs recommends asking these questions when you’re selecting a tax professional:

1. What Makes You the Best Person to Do My Return?  
Before you pick a tax professional, be sure to ask about their education, experience and licensing. Taxes can be confusing, so you want to have the most highly trained person on your side. Remember that CPAs are state-licensed professionals who have to pass the Uniform CPA Examination, a rigorous four-part, 16-hour test. They also must meet their state’s education, ethical and work experience requirements to earn their license. In addition, CPAs are required to meet ongoing high standards for continuing education and ethics. That’s why so many people turn to CPAs each year for help with tax return preparation.

2. Can You Explain Your Qualifications to Me?
Don’t assume someone is qualified just because of their job title. Did you know, for example, that all CPAs can be considered accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs? Many people who call themselves “accountants” or “tax preparers” may well have minimal qualifications or experience. If you want to receive advice from a highly skilled professional, be sure to ask if the person you are considering is a CPA.

3. How Can You Help Me Save Money on Taxes?
Because of their extensive experience, CPAs can usually spot issues you should address or opportunities you are missing based on what they see in your tax return. You may not be aware of money-saving deductions or credits, for example. Your CPA will recommend smart steps you can take to enhance your tax or general financial situation.

4. What New Tax Laws May Affect My Return?
Changes in tax legislation can have a significant impact each year. You may qualify for tax credits or deductions may be available to you that you might not know exist, but that could save you hundreds of dollars on your return. Your CPA can tell you more about how to take advantage of new opportunities, and address challenges, in recent tax legislation.

5. How Else Can You Help Me Improve My Financial Situation?
While filing your return is your main concern right now, tax time is also a great opportunity to take stock of where you stand financially and consider necessary changes. What are your most pressing financial concerns? What issues keep you up at night? Whatever they are, the chances are that your local CPA has tackled a similar challenge with other clients. CPAs work with individuals and businesses in their communities throughout the year, not just during tax season. They help clients with their tax planning as well as many other financial issues.

Consult Your CPA
Working with a CPA offers reassurance that the job will be done right. MSCPA members are real experts with real results.

Lauren A. Carnes, CPA, MST

About Lauren A. Carnes, CPA, MST

Lauren joined the firm in 1988 and became a principal in 1997. Lauren has extensive experience with corporate and individual tax planning, financial planning and in representation with government agencies. She currently directs our tax department overseeing services in most areas including corporate and individual taxation.



Lauren A. Carnes, CPA, MST
Author: Lauren A. Carnes, CPA, MST
Lauren joined the firm in 1988 and became a principal in 1997. Lauren has extensive experience with corporate and individual tax planning, financial planning and in representation with government agencies. She currently directs our tax department overseeing services in most areas including corporate and individual taxation.