Need a New Accountant? Why It Pays to Hire One Now

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  • Accountants tend to get very busy from late January through mid-to-late April.
  • If you want to hire someone new, you should begin your search ASAP.
  • If you try in the busy season, accountants will likely be extremely busy and not taking on new clients at that time.

Waiting too long could come back to bite you.

You wouldn't see a doctor if you didn't trust that person explicitly with your health. Similarly, you shouldn't hang onto an incompetent accountant, because that person might lead you to make poor financial decisions (or prevent you from maximizing your tax savings).

If you're unhappy with the accountant you've been using (whether for help with taxes or anything else), then it pays to get a new one. But it also pays to embark on that search now. Here's why.

There's not much wiggle room during busy season

Most accountants who specialize in taxes will tell you their busy season kicks off in late January and lasts through the middle to the end of April. Late January is when the IRS commonly starts accepting tax returns for the previous year, and mid-April is when those returns are due.

Meanwhile, accountants tend to be utterly swamped during tax season. Some will tell you they put in more time during that three-month period than they do the remaining nine months or so of the year. And often, accountants won't be able to take on new clients during their busy season because they're just so unbelievably swamped.

That's why now's a good time to start looking for an accountant. If you wait until the end of the year, you might run into the holidays, during which time accountants (like other professionals) may be out of the office. And if you wait until the start of 2023, you may find that the people you're interested in working with can't commit to meeting with you until after tax season is over.

How to find a new accountant

If you're in the market for a new accountant, one of the best things you can do is solicit recommendations from friends, neighbors, colleagues, and other people you trust. Hearing about someone's positive experience is a good starting point when it comes to narrowing down your choices.

Also, know what questions to ask an accountant when you sit down for a consultation. You'll want to ask things like:

  • What fees do you charge?
  • How much experience do you have?
  • Can you help me establish strategies to lower my tax burden (like maximizing IRAs)?
  • Do you offer audit support if the need becomes necessary?

If you're self-employed or own a business, you'll want to ask some additional questions, like:

  • Do you have a lot of experience working with self-employed individuals or business owners?
  • Do you file a lot of small business tax returns?
  • Are there recent tax changes for small businesses you're aware of?

Remember, you don't just want to trust any old accountant with your finances. Someone who isn't up to date on the latest tax code changes could cause you to miss out on lucrative tax breaks. And someone who's a little too liberal with tax deductions could cause you to get audited or end up in a situation where the IRS penalizes you financially.

As such, you don't want to rush into the process of hiring a new accountant. And if you start your search now, you shouldn't have to.

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