Any suggestions for finding a new accountant?

Any suggestions for finding a new accountant?
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#1

I’m realizing the accountant I have used (family friend) is probably not a great fit for me. I have been steered incorrectly in multiple scenarios. Any suggestions for how to find a trusted accountant? My taxes are not overly complex, but they are not simple. I have a couple properties (one I rent on Airbnb and one 2 unit property that I live in and rent out the other; I am strongly considering an LLC in 2019) and do some contract work, along with my full-time job. I do plan on itemizing this year.

I am not sure what a typical rate is for taxes, but I’m willing to pay in the $300-500 range annually. I’m not sure if this would also include answering some basic questions here and there and some quick phone calls, but I would also be willing to be hourly for this type of service. I live in Chicago, but I do not need a local accountant. If/when my current technology employer is acquired (likely within a couple of years), I should have a lot of capital to invest and know I will pay an accountant significantly more. Maybe I should be looking for an accountant and financial advisor in one person that I can grow with as my assets and income increase?

Any suggestions?


#2

Hi @jvonscha – Great question, and smart to be thinking about the possibility of needing an accountant and financial advisor as your financial situation changes. We’ve got a lot of great content to help you find the best person for you. A few of the tips in this story about finding a tax preparer might be helpful to you. We’ve also got questions to ask a financial advisor and tips for finding the best advisor for you.

At the very bottom of that last story I linked to, you’ll see links to a few different websites where you can search for a financial advisor – most of them let you search by specialty, so you could search there for someone who is both a tax expert (enrolled agent or CPA) and a financial planner. I’d start with XY Planning Network (they’re all fee-only fiduciaries and most are willing to work remotely, which can increase your odds of finding the right person for your situation), but all of those membership groups linked in that story are a good resource.

I hope that helps!

And oh, I just remembered: Some CPAs also carry the PFS designation, which stands for personal financial specialist, so that might be a good combination for you.


#3

As a landlord/host, you’re smart to be thinking of ways to limit your liability, such as an LLC, @jvonscha. You can create one online using LegalZoom or RocketLawyer, but you’ll still want to have a tax pro on call to answer questions. (I hit our CPA up at least three times while creating ours.)

The National Society of Accountants posted some averages for tax return preparation a couple of years ago, and nationwide it was a hair under $500 for a 1040 with a Schedule C plus a state return. I’m guessing you’ll need to pay more because of the rentals, because you’re in an urban area and because you probably will need help throughout the year, not just at tax time.

Personally, I think it’s worth paying more to find someone good who can be on call for you and help you do things like mid-year tax projections. We pay more than $2,000 a year for business and personal returns and in my view, it’s worth every cent. I’m a CFP, but there’s no way I can keep up with ever-changing tax law the way a CPA can. (And by the way, there is no such thing as a quick phone call when dealing with taxes!)