When to Say Goodbye to Your Accountant

Posted in Filing Taxes , Tax , Tax Returns • January 20, 2011

Now that we’re well into January and the 15th of April looms nearer, you’re probably thinking about your taxes a lot more lately. In fact, you might be talking with your personal accountant on a regular basis about paperwork you need to mail in and forms that must be completed.

Have you ever wondered if the high hourly rate your accountant is charging you is worth the services he or she is providing, though? The point of working with a professional is so they can help you complete a complicated task and save you money in the process. So if they’re not, or you could do the same yourself, it may be time to part ways with your accountant. In fact, here are the most common instances when you should find a new finance manager or just do your taxes on your own:

Top Reasons to Get Rid of Your Accountant

#1 Your Taxes are Simple

The most common reason a person should ditch their accountant is because they really don’t need one in the first place.

According to the The National Society of Accountants, the average cost to prepare a 1040 without any itemized deductions last year was $129. Unless you make more than $130 an hour, it would be much more cost-effective to just set 60 minutes aside and do your taxes yourself.

Accountants are hugely important to a lot of people and businesses with complicated tax situations, but in this case, some tax software and a little time are all you really need. Again, this is only if your taxes are indeed straightforward and wouldn’t take any longer to do.

# 2 Poor Communication

Do you find yourself leaving a string a voicemails that are rarely returned promptly? Do the answers to your questions leave you more confused than before you asked?

It is the duty of your accountant to be available, open and helpful. If you can’t seem to get them on the phone or they fail to provide you with documents or information in a timely manner, they’re not doing their job.

This is also true if you ask questions about your financial situation and are provided with vague, incorrect or confusing explanations. An accountant’s job doesn’t only entail crunching numbers. They’re also supposed to provide you with information and advice to help you more easily understand the complex and ever-evolving world of tax law. If your accountant never seems to have the answers to your questions or can’t provide you easily understandable counsel, it’s time to move on.

#3 Dishonesty

Though rare, a tax professional could resort to some less-than-honest tactics to get a bigger return (or paycheck).

Technically, they’re not legally liable if you’re audited because it’s up to you to review all the information your accountant sends to the IRS. However, if you have a sneaking suspicion you are being audited and it’s your accountant’s fault, you should probably look into finding a more trustworthy replacement.

The same goes for anyone who isn’t upfront about their fees or how and why they charge you for services. There should be no surprise when you get your bill.

How to Break Up with Your Accountant

If you decide you don’t want to work with your current accountant, the easiest way to end the professional relationship is to write a letter to the person or firm. Explain that you no longer need their services–you don’t have to say why–and request that any original documents they have on file be returned to you.

Firing your accountant doesn’t have to occur under negative circumstances; sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to pay someone for services you don’t really need. On the other hand, your accountant may be an integral part of your overall financial success. It all comes down to who, and why, you hire the person tasked with keeping your finances in order.

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