Keep your eye on the Accountant who is keeping an eye on your business.
Accountants are among the most trusted professionals out there. There is a strict code of conduct that we are supposed to adhere to as it pertains to the work we do for our clients, particularly when we are licensed as a CPA.
Providing accounting services is an enormous responsibility, and should be treated as such. You rely on us to do the job of making sure your business and personal tax, payroll and bookkeeping affairs are in order. That is the job we do.
So what should you expect from your accountant?
There are many things you should expect from your accountant, and things that you should really be making sure they do.
In this article I will cover 5 of the more important things that you should be making sure your accountant does on your behalf,
One - Make Sure You Get Copies of Your Files
We do all kinds of work for you. Whether it be preparing your tax return, processing your payroll or doing your monthly bookkeeping work, there are many files involved. You should make sure that your Accountant delivers to you, every month, copies of all your original files or access to internet files and systems.If you maintain your own QuickBooks, make sure you get and import the accountant’s change file so you have the same information. If your accountant maintains your books, make sure you get copies of any reports you are paying them to prepare.
Two - Make Sure Things Get Filed
Your Accountant is doing the work, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware of what needs to be done. You should ask your Accountant what filings are required, like your tax returns or payroll tax returns, and then make sure they get filed.
Checking in with your Accountant to monitor these filings are essential for a number of reasons. Two are:
- Sometimes you and your Accountant are not on the same page and each thinks the other is going to do it.
- Sometimes no matter how diligent or careful your accountant is, things slip through the cracks. Particularly if you are using a solo practitioner, it is always good to have a second pair of eyes, yours, on the work. (For the record, our office has a review process that provides at least two pairs of eyes on every job)
Three – Payroll, Tax Payments, and Bill Payments are Processed
Many of you will hire an Accountant or Bookkeeper to process your payroll and/or pay your bills. It is not a good thing if your employees do not get paid, payroll taxes don't get filed or vendors don’t get paid.
One of the more serious problems, that thankfully doesn't happen that often, is when your accountant, instead of paying your employees, takes the money for themselves. This can leave you with problems with your employees, but also having to pay serious penalties and interest for unpaid payroll taxes.
In most cases, and particularly when you are working with a CPA, your accountant holds themselves to a high standard of ethics.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't monitor the processing of your payroll.and bill payment. Do yourself a favor and review your bank statements every month.
Four - Make Sure Estimated Tax Payments are Made
Estimated tax payments are set up for folks who don't have enough withheld from their pay check, or for the self employed. The reason you make estimated tax payments is because the government wants what is due when it is due.
Contrary to popular opinion, taxes are due all year long, not just on April 15th.
With that, if your CPA or Accountant sets up a payment schedule for you, make sure the payments are being made on time, and keep good records of these payments. If they are not made, you could be subject to severe penalties and interest.
Five - Make Sure Your Notices are Addressed
Sometimes a business owner won’t take action on a tax notice because they don’t know what to do, they think it is incorrect and will just go away, or they are embarrassed that things got that bad. The results of blowing off a notice can be disastrous.
A fairly small tax debt can easily turn into an enormous, penalty and interest bearing, note owned to the government that affects almost all aspects of your financial well being. In fact, if tax liens are levied against you, you are almost crippled against any type of financing arrangement including home equity loans or small business loans.
Many businesses do not survive once it gets to this point. Be proactive, and you can often put an affordable payment plan in place, which will stop the collection process as long as you are current in your payments.
I am a CPA and take my job very seriously. Being responsible for your financial well being is both important to me, and very rewarding. It all comes with a cost. That cost is that I replace your worry with mine. I do it freely and with no concerns. It matters to me that everything that needs to be done, is done correctly and on time.
It should matter to you as well. Make sure that you and your Accountant work together to ensure that the things that are supposed to get done, get done.