What do you look for in a tax firm? It’s a simple question, but one that shouldn’t be taken too lightly. You might find the answer by asking a colleague. You could ask the local Chamber or maybe you’ll find the answer by doing a search in Google and going with who you like best.
For close to twenty years, we’ve been helping San Rafael small businesses and individuals with their taxes. That means that every year we add new clients and a lot of them come from other tax firms who weren’t meeting their needs.
If you’re thinking of making a switch to a new tax firm, this article describes the five things to look out for.
Number 1: Accounting Experience
We’ve been accounting experts since 1999. So for nearly two decades, we’ve offered accounting services to a wide range of clients and an even wider range of businesses.
We’ve worked with thousands of clients and hundreds of Marin County businesses.
We’re aware that the tax codes change annually, and we’re on top of those changes so that we can update our clients to minimize their tax liability and share information that may affect them in 2016.
We have vast experience and deep expertise in personal and business tax preparation, in leading estimated quarterly tax discussions, in management services, and in filing your taxes on an individualized and/or business basis.
Number 2: Estimated Quarterly Taxes
How much are you paying annually in taxes? Are you paying $20,000, $50,000, or perhaps $100,000 or more?
Did you know that by estimating your taxes on a quarterly basis, you could pay approximately 25% of that huge amount across the year and possibly lower your overall tax burden?
While most software programs ask you a number of questions to determine your possible estimated quarterly taxes, they don’t ask all of the questions an experienced accountant might ask.
They may not recognize your fluctuating cash flow or the fact that your largest client takes 60 days to pay you for most of your invoices, but occasionally stretches that out to 90 days or more.
Estimating your quarterly taxes is much more than calculating how much you’ve been paying annually and adjusting that figure. It includes:
- How much of a refund you may also receive on a federal and state level
- How many deductions you’re taking
- Whether or not you’re a California C or S Corporation
- What age your children are
- How much your medical deductions are for the current tax year
- Your age and your spouse’s age
- Earned income credits
- Much, much more.
Number 3: Budget Forecasting
Budgeting, cash forecasting, and cash flow analysis are all equally important components of an accountant’s services.
But what’s the difference between a budget and a forecast? The budget is a plan for where your business wants to go; a forecast is an indication of where it’s actually going.
In other words, a budget is an expectation with quantified numbers for what you want to achieve for your business. A budget shows current results, future potential results, your financial position, and your cash flow over a specific period of time.
A budget should be updated only once a year and is compared to actual results that determine variances from your expected annual performance. You and/or your management team can take the proper steps to bring actual results back in line with your budget. That comparison can trigger changes in salaries paid to you and your employees.
Meanwhile, a forecast is an estimate of what you want to achieve. It’s typically limited to major revenue and expense line items, though your cash flow may be forecasted, too.
Unlike a budget that’s updated once per year, a forecast can be updated regularly, by the month or by the quarter, for an operational overview such as adjusting your staffing, assessing your inventory, reviewing your production costs, and other considerations.
Finally, changes in your forecasting do not impact performance-based employee compensation.
Number 4: Financial Planning
Any business needs a plan. But financial planning for your business is a very specific type of professional service that you should discuss in depth with your accountant.
Financial planning encompasses your specific goals to grow your business, to minimize your taxes, and to make sure that you can always focus on doing what you do best –– running your business.
Financial planning for your business is similar to financial planning for your family –– we want to see the big picture for the long-term.
We want to ensure that we focus on your strengths, while also realizing that any business has its ups and downs, and has changes in management. We also want to plan for your company’s future with a succession plan should something happen to you.
One of our clients wrote this testimonial for our financial planning and other expertise:
“A++ on all levels! Books In Balance has been helping our business for many years now and have done just about everything, from financial planning to bookkeeping, personal and business taxes, and they do a great job of payroll & HR! They are a valued asset in our success. It would be difficult without them, and you could not ask for a more efficient and pleasant group of people to regularly work with.”
– Michela T.
Number 5: Preparing and Filing Your Taxes
Tax preparation services are our core specialty. Our tax clients include those who need individual returns, joint returns, and virtually every form of small business return.
We prepare and file taxes for your business, from sole proprietors to partnerships, from California C corporations to California S corporations, and from non-profits to small estates and family trusts.
We prepare and file taxes for the IRS as well as the Franchise Tax Board in California and in other states.
More importantly, we help you answer any query letters you may get from either entity.
And if you should happen to receive an audit letter, we stand by your side and stand behind our tax experience to represent you in an audit.
A client recently endorsed us with this feedback:
“My taxes were complicated this year because of a job and a home-based business. Brandon saved me endless frustration. I wish I had started off by going to Books in Balance instead of the many hours I tried to figure it out myself” – Cynthia C.
What Else Should You Know?
If you want to talk to a local tax expert – at no obligation – let’s set up your free one-hour consultation now. Please fill out the form below and I will contact you.
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