Managing your finances requires you to strike the perfect balance of earning, spending and saving. It’s not an easy task, as evidenced by the fact that only half of Americans’ have savings that exceed their income for one month. For those whose savings are less than or equal to one month’s income, it would take only one month to deplete their savings entirely. Then what? Ann Irons, a certified public accountant in Bellingham, MA, explains that saving money is critical to your long-term financial stability, but that sometimes you must spend money to make money, and ultimately to save money. She goes on to discuss the benefits of using a CPA and the best way to get more for your money.
A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way
It doesn’t take an accounting guru to see that time is money. When you prepare to meet with your CPA for the first time, gather all relevant documents. The type of services you need will determine which documents are needed. For example, someone in need of tax preparation in Bellingham, MA might bring his current W-2 form and tax returns from previous years. If you aren’t certain which documents you should bring, be sure to ask when you set up your appointment. The ability to provide this important information for your CPA will save time—yours and theirs—and help avoid errors by omission.
Improved Decision-Making in Financial Matters
We recently read about a man who purchased two fuel-efficient vehicles, each a different make and model, within a single year. He opted for a Smart Car and a Toyota Prius, believing that each would qualify him for the hybrid tax credit. By the time tax season rolled around, he had already spent the credit before he’d even filed, so sure was he that he would receive it. You can imagine his distress when he discovered that the Prius was no longer eligible for the credit.
We’ve also seen what can happen when assumptions go awry. Consider the example of a man who each year gave generous monetary gifts to his family members in an attempt to avoid paying gift taxes. He assumed that the exclusion would most likely increase as a result of inflation and decided to increase the gift amounts significantly. Unfortunately, there was no such adjustment for inflation, and he was expected to pay the difference between the larger sum and the correct amount excluded.
Any time you have big plans for your money, whether spending, saving, or investing, you’ll find that a CPA is an invaluable source of current and accurate information. Cars, homes, college tuition—these are important matters, and it’s up to you to make the most responsible choices. Note that not all accountants and tax preparers demonstrate the same level of commitment to continuing education and knowledge of current taxation and regulatory requirements. A CPA, on the other hand, must undergo a rigorous licensing process with strict requirements needed to maintain good standing with the issuing state.
Think Value, Not Price
Can you use free tax software to file your taxes? Absolutely. Should you? Not necessarily, says Irons. These services work well for those who have no investments, savings, or other notable financial transactions, and for individual taxpayers who do not qualify for multiple deductions. Unlike software or seasonal tax preparers, partnering with a true accounting and tax professional affords protection and assistance throughout the year, for many years to come. Think of a seasonal tax preparer as a Polaroid snapshot of your financial standing. Now, think of the array of services offered by a CPA—more like a photo album! Of the two, which do you think will provide the most accurate and true representation of your finances?
Honesty Is the Best (Money-Saving) Policy
Honesty is an important part of any relationship. You expect that your CPA or adviser will guide you through financial matters ethically and transparently. Likewise, your CPA must depend on you to provide detailed, accurate, current information about your finances. Withholding important details, no matter how unpleasant they may be, will almost always do more harm than good. If you have gambling debts, massive credit card debt, or medical bills, it is in your best interest to share them. As with a patient-doctor relationship, your information will always remain confidential, and your concerns—whether financial or medical—will most likely be much easier to diagnose and treat.
Choose value over price. To learn more about our tax, accounting, and bookkeeping services, or to schedule an appointment with Ann Irons, CPA, LLC, contact our Bellingham, MA office at 508-966-0700. We welcome individuals and businesses and are located near Milford, Medway, Woonsocket, and Franklin.