Have any tax questions you want answers to? KBH Chartered Professional Accountants are here to help in a new bi-weekly segment we’re calling “Ask an Accountant”, where we hope to answer any questions you may have!

Before you hire a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) or an accountant for your business, get ready for a face-to-face discussion. You’re going to want to get to know the person, and company, you will be working with and trusting.

1. What are Your Fees? How Do You Bill Clients?

2. What Services Do You Provide? 

Most CPA’s and accounting firms provide a range of services – from assisting with monthly bookkeeping to payroll processing/payroll remittances, to preparation and filing. If the firm has several professionals, they will probably specialize. If you are looking for an all-in-one firm, a CPA is better than an accountant. This is because CPA’s are qualified to do more, including representing you during a tax audit. Which leads to our next question.

3. Can You Represent Me If I Get Audited by the CRA?

All CPA’s are qualified to represent clients before the CRA, but not all accountants are. Also, ask how many tax audits this person has participated in. You may never be audited, but having someone on your side who knows what to expect with the CRA is a plus.

4. Do You Have Experience With My Kind of Business?

Not all business types are handled the same from an accounting and tax standpoint, and having a firm that understands your field is very helpful. For example, if you are a health care professional (chiropractor, acupuncturist, physical therapist, psychologist, or other) your CPA should be knowledgeable about specifics to the medical field – such as GST exemptions.

5. Can You Represent Me in All the Provinces Where I Do Business?

If your business operates in several provinces or cities, ask if the firm is able to practice in all the places where you have a business. Many cities and provinces have reciprocal agreements, but check anyway.

6. Do You Communicate By Email or Other Online Means?

Most professional firms use email and many use Skype, GoToMeeting, and other online services. If you have a firm that’s not in town, using these services is essential. Make sure the firm you choose makes itself available to readily communicate with you should any issues arise.

7. How Often Should We Meet to Discuss My Business Taxes?

One of the primary purposes of having a CPA is for tax consultation. Ask how often this person recommends meeting to discuss taxes. You should meet at least at mid-year, some firms even recommend meeting every quarter.

 It is far better to pay a little more to meet several times a year than to wait and find that you have a tax problem.

8. What is Your Tax Philosophy and Tax Planning Priorities?

Have a frank discussion about tax philosophy. Is this person cautious, assertive, or aggressive about taking deductions? A couple of good points to use as examples are travel expenses and home office deductions. Your CPA’s style and philosophy should match yours. If you don’t feel comfortable with this person’s philosophy, move along to the next.

Have something specific you want us to write about? Send an e-mail to: communications@kbh.ca, or DM us on Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn!