Dave Ramsey Says You Should Ask These Questions Before Hiring an Accountant

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  • It's important to find an accountant with the right experience and ample availability.
  • You should also aim to find someone with reasonable rates.
  • Some accountants also offer financial planning services, so inquire about help with those if you need it.

They're important ones to ask.

At this point, many people are deep in the throes of getting their taxes together. And if you feel that you've gotten in over your head, you may be looking to find an accountant to help you finish the job.

But you don't want to hire just anyone. In a recent blog post, financial expert Dave Ramsey talked about the importance of having an accountant to help with a small business and ran through some questions to ask before hiring one. But even if you're not a small business owner, it pays to ask these questions when searching for an accountant.

1. How long have you been doing this?

You probably wouldn't want a doctor who graduated medical school yesterday to perform a complicated surgery on you. Similarly, it stands to reason that you'd want an accountant with a decent level of experience. This doesn't mean you should only hire someone with a decade of experience or more under their belt, but someone brand-new without a seasoned partner may not be your ideal choice.

2. Are you available year-round?

You may need help with your taxes ASAP so you can complete your return before the April 18 filing deadline. But the reality is that you never know when you might need tax help at another time, so it pays to hire someone whose office is open 12 months a year, and not just during tax season.

3. Can you help if I run into an issue with the IRS?

You never know when the IRS might opt to audit your tax return. In many cases, an audit simply means having to provide the IRS with more information. In other scenarios, it could mean having to part with more of your money. That's why it's important to find an accountant who's willing to help you if you wind up getting audited or running into another problem where you need professional advice and representation.

4. Who will I be working with?

Many accountants don't work alone. Rather, they have partners, assistants, and other support staff. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Quite the contrary -- the more people there are to help out, the better the service you might get. But it's a good idea to know what that setup looks like.

5. How much do you charge?

This might seem like a tacky question, but actually, it's a very reasonable one. You don't want to overpay for tax or financial help, but an accountant whose rates are unusually low might raise a red flag, too. Ask this question, but also, compare it to other quotes to get a sense of whether the number is reasonable.

But don't just ask about the cost to complete a tax return. A good accountant might be able to help with other financial planning matters, like maxing out your IRA account or taking steps to reduce your tax liability year-round. So find out what fees you're looking at for other services you might need.

If you're going to use an accountant, it's important to find the right person for the job. Asking these questions could make you far more comfortable with your decision.

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