Business property taxes are an unavoidable part of owning a business. Many business owners are tempted to use tax software or simply file taxes on their own. For many reasons, these alternatives can be a risky endeavor. However, knowing how to choose the right CPA can also be a daunting task.
A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, can help your organization with tax returns, audit support, appeals, as well as long-term tax planning.
Business property taxes are complicated - there are deductions you may qualify for, tax laws change often, and the nuances associated with asset reporting real estate valuations are enough to give most people a headache.
WHY SHOULD YOU HIRE A CPA?
There are several advantages to hiring a CPA. First and foremost, you can spend less time worrying about your taxes and more time running your business. Additionally, at Sharon H. Lyall, CPA, we take pride in finding potential tax-savings opportunities for our clients.
While different firms offer different services, our firm supports your business in multiple ways.
SHARON H. LYALL, CPA SERVICES OFFERED:
- Asset Identification & Tagging
- Real vs. Personal Analysis
- Asset Reporting Clean Up
- Local Reporting Compliance
- Tax Exemption Identification
- Tax Assessment Review
- Idle Equipment Identification
- Audit Support
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CPA AND AN ACCOUNTANT?
A CPA is an accountant, but not all accountants are CPAs.
The distinction between the two comes down to four factors. Ensuring that you understand the difference is crucial when determining how to choose the right CPA for your business.
CPAs have passed strict testing and met requirements for licensing in the state in which they practice.
Those who wish to become CPAs must complete 150 hours of coursework during college, including upper-level accounting, business classes, and auditing.
After graduation, CPA candidates spend a year working under CPA supervision and must pass a rigorous examination on business, tax, auditing, and accounting skills.
After a CPA becomes licensed, they must take continuing education classes. These classes keep CPAs up-to-date on issues or changes.
A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of another person/persons/organization, puts the needs of their clients before their own, and must preserve good faith and trust.
Alternatively, CPAs are fiduciaries who have the legal duty and power to act on behalf of their clients’ best interests.
If your business is required to have a financial statement audit or review, a CPA is required to execute and issue these reports.
TAXES AND REGULATIONS
Non-CPA accountants can prepare and file tax returns. However, the advantages a CPA provides can further put your mind at ease. CPAs are typically more knowledgeable in tax codes due to licensing examinations, certification requirements, and continuing education courses.
Additionally, CPAs can represent your organization if audit support is required. The same is not true for an accountant without a CPA certification.
CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
CPAs are required to follow the Code of Professional Conduct set forth by the American Institute of CPAs.
THE PRINCIPLES IN THE CODE ARE:
- Responsibilities: When executing their responsibilities as professionals, members must exercise professional and moral judgments.
- Public Interest: Members are obligated to serve the public interest, honor the public trust, and exhibit a dedication to professionalism.
- Integrity: Members should execute all professional duties and responsibilities with the highest degree of integrity. Doing so maintains and broadens public confidence.
- Objectivity and Independence: Members should sustain objectivity and freedom from conflicts of interest while performing professional responsibilities. When providing auditing or other attestation services, members should be independent in fact and appearance.
- Due Care: A member should observe the profession's technical and ethical standards, strive continually to improve competence and the quality of services, and discharge professional responsibility to the best of the member's ability.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CPA: WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Aside from the licensing and certification qualifications, there are other things you need to consider when deciding how to choose the right CPA.
AREA(S) OF EXPERTISE
Like the medical field, everyone specializes in something different. Your organization should consider looking for a CPA with a specific industry or niche expertise. Some firms work with nonprofits, some specialize in retail, while others have particular experience and knowledge in construction. An essential aspect of determining how to choose the right CPA is choosing one who meets your specific needs.
“In my experience, property tax doesn’t get much attention in many CPA firms - it gets baked in and regurgitated based on the work they did for income taxes. However, the rules are completely different. Many people don’t spend the time to learn the rules, so property tax doesn’t get the time it deserves. That’s why we almost always find tax savings opportunities for our clients.” Sharon H. Lyall, CPA
Specialties are based on services provided or industries served. At Sharon H. Lyall, CPA, our expertise and experience are in the unique area of business property taxes. We are adept at handling business property taxes for franchises such as hotels, fast food companies, and manufacturing companies.
How to choose the right CPA is also reliant on size. It may be tempting to employ a large and widely recognized firm. After all, name recognition goes a long way.
For instance, in political elections, name recognition is crucial. Signs litter the streets, and billboards feature candidates in an attempt to increase high name recognition. In one study, candidates with high name recognition garnered 69% more shares of the votes than those with low name recognition. However, that doesn’t mean that the candidate is the right person for the job.
The same is true when choosing a CPA to handle your business property taxes. Many large firms farm out their work to smaller firms or pass it off to interns, making it difficult to know who is handling your account.
Sharon H. Lyall, CPA, may be small, but we offer clear advantages.
SOME ADVANTAGES OF HIRING SHARON H. LYALL, CPA:
- Niche taxation expertise
- Better service
- Ability to collaborate with local and regional tax departments
- We know the ins and outs of your business
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CPA: QUESTIONS TO ASK
Before you decide who to hire, you must take the time to sit down and have a discussion. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this conversation may take place over Zoom or in Google Meets.
Asking the right questions can provide insight and information that will inform your decision.
SOME EXAMPLES INCLUDE:
- What is your tax background?
- How are your rates determined?
- Who will be managing my account?
- How does most communication happen?
- What happens if my business taxes get audited?
- What information do I need to provide each year?
- Can you represent me in all of the states where I do business?
Additionally, inquire about how their services have benefited similar businesses. Responses should be specific, not vague.
IS SHARON H. LYALL, CPA, THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
If you are ready to hire a certified public accountant to help you with all of your business property tax needs, Sharon H. Lyall, CPA, is a great choice. Geographically, we serve businesses across the United States.
To learn more about our firm, our services, or to inquire about a Free Asset Review, contact us today.