Getting the best outcome at tax season is dependent on a few things, but there’s one that really sticks out: being on the same page as your accountant. It might seem like a straightforward relationship, but occasionally there is static that can come up – and when that happens during tax season? It’s a recipe for stress.
Before we get too far, it’s important to say this: we didn’t write this post to say that your accountant is bad. We don’t believe that’s true. There’s no such thing as a good or a bad accountant (for the most part), but there ARE bad fits between accountants and their clients.
What are signs that your accountant isn't a good fit?
The biggest sign for a troubled relationship with an accountant is the same as the sign of ANY problem relationship: lack of communication. We see this most often with annual accountants and their clients. Why? Well, for two reasons.
When you hire an annual accountant, you’re not the only one using them. Your accountant cares about getting your taxes right, but they also might be doing dozens (or even hundreds) of other returns at the same time. They don’t have a relationship with you. You drop your files off, you answer any questions they have, and you wait. Sometimes that waiting can be tough, especially if you’ve got some pretty intense tax situations that need to be taken care of.
It’s hard for any accountant to say no. This might be surprising, but your accountant is probably going to take your business no matter what. Let’s say they specialize in individual tax prep, but you started an S corp in the same year. They might not know about P&Ls or any of the other pieces that might come into play – but they want to take care of you and keep your business. This kind of thing can be compounded when the communication isn’t there, and you’re unaware that this might not be the kind of thing they regularly do.
Either of these can make for a really stressful tax season for you and your company. So what can you do about it? We’re glad you asked. Here are two options to help you find the right path for your business.
Have a sit-down with your current accountant
Your accountant wants you to succeed – because when you succeed, then so do they. If your goals have changed from the last time you’ve spoken, then it behooves you to have a meeting with them. What should you discuss? Well, aligning the process so that it lines up with your new goals is the biggie. Ideally, they’ll listen to what you say, then come up with a plan to get it done. If they’re not an expert in S corps, then they’ll have someone that they can recommend for those questions. If they’re not willing to have that conversation, then it might be time for the other option.
Find a new accountant
If this is happening during tax season, you may have to file an extension or go ahead with your current accountant. DO NOT file your taxes on your own. While it may seem like a pain at first, taking the time to have a good fit accountant will simplify your life in so many ways, that we can’t stress enough how important this is.
Things to think about when looking for a new accountant
Have a plan with your expectations clearly laid out.
What is your best communication style?
Think about your goals for personal and business growth.
Look, it’s not anyone’s fault if your current accountant isn’t a great fit. That said, you’d be crazy to stay if it’s not working for you. Take stock, weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision. In the end, this is one of the most important business relationships you’ll ever enter into. Communication is a key piece of that.