Hiring a Professional

Regardless of the type of accounting software you install or your own ability to number-crunch, at some point you might need or want to hire outside help. An array of tax and accounting professionals are available. In the following sections, we tell you how to determine which one is right for you.

Recognizing that it takes all types

Start by reviewing the types of professionals who can help you. They include

  • CPA: These initials after a person's name, which stand for certified public accountant, indicate that the person has passed a state-regulated exam and is recognized by the IRS as a paid preparer for submitting your tax returns. Typically, a CPA fully understands accounting methods and is well versed in tax regulations. Because tax laws are cumbersome and continually changing, a CPA might even specialize in a particular area. Examples of industry-based specialization are government, retail, and small business. Specialization can also be classified according to function, such as a CPA who specializes in mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, a CPA can legally conduct audits, whereas other accounting professionals cannot.
  • Accountant: Except for the lack of a state-issued license or certificate, an accountant has the same basic skills as a CPA. Even so, an accountant can assist in preparing your taxes and file them, too. And, like a CPA, a reputable accountant can advise you about financial decisions, and should be up to date on changing tax laws.
  • Bookkeeper: ...

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