Hi, I’m Jillian Battaglio, a Chartered Professional Accountant and founder of TaxWrx.
In addition to TaxWrx I’ve also operated a boutique accounting firm for more than 5 years in Kelowna, British Columbia focusing on small business taxes.
It Can Be a Frustrating Search
Why is it so hard to find a great accountant?
When talking to new clients I often hear that my accounting firm was the first accountant to respond to their inquiries. Clients have reached out to many different accountants before finding the right fit.
Whether you’ve moved, started a new business, or are unhappy with your current accountant, changing firms can be tough.
You are a responsible, taxpaying citizen looking for friendly service and great communication along with peace of mind around your tax filings and helpful advice every now and then.
Is that so much to ask for?
To support you in your search for the best accountant, we’ve developed this guide to help you decide who to trust with your business finances.
Accounting Firm Size Matters
When picking an accountant your first decision is around the size of the accounting firm.
Firms range from sole proprietors (one-man bands) to large corporations with 100+ employees and multiple Chartered Professional Accountants on staff.
To pick the best accountant for you, consider how big your own tax needs are. The more money your business is bringing in, the bigger accounting firm you’re probably going to want.
When To Think Big
A larger accounting firm will have a variety of departments such as business valuation and estate planning while a smaller firm will offer more personalized services and perhaps a more detailed approach to your tax return.
If you are earning more than $500k+ in profits, then a large firm can likely handle the complexities of your tax needs without having to outsource to third-party service providers like an estate planning expert.
Comparatively if your business is on the smaller side, then consider a boutique accounting firm.
When A Smaller Firm is Best
Boutique accounting firms also offer knowledgeable services when managed by a Chartered Professional Accountant (or CPA) but they may be able to spend more time reviewing your documents and finding extra tax deductions.
A great benefit for any business owner.
When to Pick TaxWrx
Here at TaxWrx, we focus on bridging the advice gap you may not be getting from either your large or small accounting firm. We answer tax questions and bookkeeping inquiries that you as small business owners may have.
Should you incorporate?
How do you start a business?
When should you register for GST?
We strive to help you find additional tax write-offs and reduce your CRA audit risk. Services that a traditional accounting firm may be too busy to assist with. If this is of interest to you, then be sure to check out our membership plans.
When looking for an accountant consider how complex your taxes are.
After more than 10 years of working one on one with Canadian small business owners, I’ve learned that everyone’s taxes are ‘simple’. To help shed some light on this mysterious area of tax, let’s talk about what complexity really means. Tax complexity is:
Foreign tax issues like foreign property ownership, non-resident taxpayers and those immigrating or emigrating from Canada.
Owning multiple corporations which have association and shared business limit issues on top of regular tax filings.
Advanced tax planning needs like Trust (T3) or estate planning and deceased taxpayer returns.
When Bigger is Better
All these tax complexities above will benefit from a larger firm because they require ultra specialized tax training and come with a whole host of unique tax rules that most accountants may not be comfortable with.
If any of the above situations sound like you, then a larger accounting firm is often the right choice for your tax needs.
Where A Small Firm Shines
Other situations like rental properties, employment expenses, and small businesses aren’t ‘complex’ in the tax sense because they don't require ultra-specialized tax training like estate planning does.
This doesn't mean small business taxes are simple.
These returns can still significantly benefit from professional services and advice like what TaxWrx offers; but it is nice to know that most accountants who are designated Chartered Professional Accountants (or CPAs) will be able to assist you.
When To Consider DIY or Non-CPA Services
Only taxpayers with very simple situations like basic employment forms and RRSPs contributions should DIY their taxes or reach out to an accountant who is not a CPA.
Any more complex and you could be surprised to find additional taxes and CRA audits popping up in the future.
Think About Technology
The last thing you’ll want to consider when picking an accountant is technology comfort.
Different accountants will use technology in different ways and have different requirements for their clients. Some questions to ask yourself when decision on a CPA include:
Do you want to be communicating mostly through email or do you prefer phone calls?
Do you like to use portals and e-transfer services, or would you prefer to physically drop off paperwork?
Do you enjoy online booking and self-serve website options, or do you need to hear a human voice before setting up an appointment?
Do you like e-signature services or do you need to put a pen to paper before signing your tax return?
Your own comfort level around technology should help drive your decision around the accountant you pick.
At TaxWrx, We Love Tech
Here at TaxWrx, we embrace technology.
We offer online tax advice videos and quick action handouts, along with excel templates and how-to excel tutorials so you can access professional tax advice whenever and wherever you need it.
This helps make life easier for our busy small business clients but can be a turn-off for those used to a more traditional relationship with their Chartered Professional Accountant.
When reviewing your options, find an accountant whose website and service options match your own technology comfort level. This will help ensure you are happy with the services you receive over a long period of time.
How To Find the Best Accountant (For You)
Don’t settle for just any accountant.
Picking a firm that matches the size and complexity of your tax needs along with your own technology comfort level can mean a great fit and a prosperous relationship spanning many years. Taking the time to find your best relationship and the best business ally can mean improved financial health and well-being for yourself and your family.
If you are a business owner who is committed to your business and to getting great tax advice and information so your business can thrive, then we invite you to join TaxWrx today.
We are a community of small business owners looking to jumpstart your business and help you avoid disastrous tax mistakes.
At TaxWrx and we provide real tax advice for real business owners.
And we may just be the best accountant for you.