Why It Pays to Meet With a Tax Professional All Year Round

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  • Accountants do a lot more than just prepare taxes.
  • Their knowledge and advice can sometimes save you a lot of money.

A good accountant can do more than just help with your taxes.

Many of us have a once-a-year relationship with our accountants. During tax season, we meet to review IRS paperwork and get a return filed. And from there, it's "see you later" until the following year.

I used to be one of those people who only met up to do taxes. But then I became self-employed and started my own business. And now I do at least one review per year with my accountant to help make smart decisions with my money and maximize my tax breaks. And you may want to do the same.

Could more face time with your accountant benefit you?

If your tax situation is fairly uncomplicated -- you rent a home, say, and have a single job that pays a salary -- you may not need to engage an accountant's services outside of tax season. And even then, you may be fully equipped to file your own tax returns. But if you own a business, are self-employed, or do a lot of investing, it could pay to sit down with an accountant some other time of the year.

One of my accountant's services is providing general tax strategies. Granted, we usually talk through these when we do my actual taxes. But my accountant is well-versed in tax rule changes, and he's offered advice that's saved me money.

A few years ago, for example, my accountant informed me I could pay certain pass-through taxes to my state (an option available to me as a business owner). Doing so saved me money, and had we not had that meeting, I never would've known that program existed. (Even though I write about taxes from time to time, that program totally slipped under my radar.)

Plus, I like to meet with my accountant during the off-season to discuss strategies at a time when, frankly, he's less stressed and pressed for time. In the past, we've talked through ways I can invest with a minimal tax hit.

A worthwhile investment

My accountant doesn't offer his services for free (though I can deduct their cost as a business expense -- another benefit of being self-employed). But to me, it's worth paying those fees because ultimately, the advice I get saves me money.

If you've yet to meet with an accountant outside of having your taxes done, it could pay to sit down with one at least once during the year. You may be surprised at how affordable an off-season consultation is. In fact, you may spend a few hundred dollars, but get advice that saves you thousands. So don't wait until March or April when taxes are due -- consider setting up a meeting and see what it does for you.

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