How Can I Find a Good Tax Accountant?

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Welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers. You can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

If you’re not typically a video watcher, give it a try. These videos are short and painless, and you’ll learn something valuable. But if you can’t deal with video, no problem: Just scroll down this page for the full transcript of the video, as well as some reader resources.

Today’s question is about finding the perfect tax pro.

I’ve been a CPA since 1981, but these days I don’t do my own taxes. I have my fingers in too many other pies, and I like having input from someone whose entire focus is income taxes.

Here’s how I picked my accountant, and how you should pick yours.

For more information on this topic, check out “7 Ways to Get Your Taxes Done for Free” and “How Not to Blow Your Tax Refund.” Better yet, check out our entire library of tax stories. You can go to the “topics” drop down menu at the top of this page and click on the first topic: taxes. There, you’ll find a ton of articles addressing just about anything you could want to know.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hi, everyone. I’m Stacy Johnson here with your “2-Minute Money Manager.” This one is brought to you by, the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Today’s question comes from Linda. Linda says, “Stacy, how do I find a new tax accountant? I’ve moved to a new state.”

Linda, I’m going to tell you something embarrassing: I’ve been a CPA since 1981. Is that 37 years? OMG. Anyway, I’ve been a CPA for that long, but I actually employ the services of an accountant myself for my taxes. Why? I want to make sure I’m using somebody who devotes all their attention to taxes. I don’t, since I make my living running this site.

So, there’s my embarrassing confession. I’m a CPA who hires a CPA.

Anyway, Linda wants to know how to find a new accountant, because she’s moved to a new state. A couple of things, Linda.

Number one, do you need to get a new accountant? When I moved from Arizona to my home here in South Florida years ago, I kept the same accountant for a few years. When it comes to federal taxes, it doesn’t make any difference where you or your accountant live. True, there may be state income taxes to deal with, but your old accountant probably can handle that too. Ask them.

Next, how to go about finding a new, local accountant if you do decide to switch: First, ask friends, acquaintances and/or co-workers who they use. Get referrals like you would for anything else, whether it’s a plumber, doctor, roofer or anything else.

When you do ask your friends, try to find those in the same basic category as you. In other words, a person who makes $10 million a year may use a different type of an accountant than someone who makes $100,000 a year. So, try to get people in the same basic type of financial situation you’re in and then try to get some referrals.

If that won’t work for you, the IRS has a database of licensed professionals by ZIP code. The IRS obviously doesn’t make specific recommendations, but at least their list gives you a place to start. I looked yesterday and found about 30 that were zero miles from me, so depending on where you live, there’s likely plenty of people to pick from.

Here’s something really important, no matter who you’re looking for — roofer, mechanic, doctor or accountant: Talk to three. It’s kind of like dating. Once you meet the right person, they’re going to pop out. So, talk to several, three at least, and I bet you you’re going to find somebody you like.

I hope that helps, Linda. Go out and make it a profitable day, and I’ll see you right here next time!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

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