How to get more out of your relationship with your CPA

December 5, 2023 | 5 minute read

If you’re like many small business owners, you may not see your CPA outside of tax season very often — or at all. But there’s plenty this trusted advisor can do for you all year long. Making the most of your CPA’s knowledge can help you reach your business goals more quickly and avoid costly mistakes.


The more information you share about your business, the more your CPA can help you. Consider meeting at least twice a year if your annual revenue has reached $100,000, quarterly if it’s in the hundreds of thousands, or if it’s in the millions, you may want to meet every month so your accountant can keep a finger on the pulse of your business, advises Peter S. Muffoletto, CPA, whose firm by the same name is based in Woodland Hills, California.


Of course, accountants charge for their time, so you’ll want to use your meetings efficiently. To get the most out of each meeting, prepare an agenda. For example, you might update your CPA on what’s happening in your business and your industry. Then you could review your company’s most pressing financial concerns. A CPA who works with other businesses in your industry is likely to know about solutions you may not have considered. 


How a CPA can help your small business

Fine-tune your recordkeeping

Keeping good records is critical for small business owners, whether you need to apply for funding or want tax time to go smoothly. If you haven’t fully mastered your accounting software, ask for a tutorial from your CPA — “My staff often trains people,” says Muffoletto — or, if you're perpetually behind on using it, outsource the work to a bookkeeper your CPA recommends.


Keeping good records can pay for itself. The IRS can generally audit your company’s tax returns three years after filing but may be able to audit your company’s returns six years after filing in certain circumstances. If you fail to file returns, there is no time limit on the IRS’s ability to audit.


Make sure you keep employees’ names, addresses and contact information; employees’ timesheets and paystubs; insurance documents and contracts, including loans and mortgages; bank statements; and all forms submitted to the IRS. Without proper documentation, you may find in an audit that you owe additional taxes, interest and a penalty (generally equal to 20% of your underpayment of tax). 


Make sure you ask your CPA how long your state and locality require you to retain records, too. State and local tax authorities can also audit your returns.


Do tax planning year-round

As you meet with your CPA, ask for updates on the ever-changing landscape of regulations, economic trends and tax legislation — and their implications for your business. With a little planning, you may be surprised at how many tax deductions and credits you can rack up over the year.


Regular tax planning can also help manage your budget more effectively, so you don’t get into a scramble to pay quarterly taxes.


Reevaluate your business structure

Whether you run a sole proprietorship, an LLC, an S corporation or another type of business, its structure has tax implications. Check in every year with your CPA to make sure your current structure is still advantageous from a tax and liability standpoint.


Stay ahead of economic trends

Many small businesses are having trouble predicting the demand for their products and services in the coming quarters. Some are struggling to manage high demand amid supply chain and labor market disruptions, while others are trying to find new customers.


Using the latest forecasting tools, a CPA can help you predict what’s ahead for your business more accurately. You may also be able to work together to identify potential cost-savings in your budget, so you have more money to invest in marketing and other tools for growth.


While you might — in ideal circumstances — be able to do these things for yourself, the daily demands of running a business often get in the way. 


How to find the right CPA

It may take some digging to uncover an accountant with expertise in your niche. Here are some places to start your search. 


  • Ask your banker for a referral 
  • Network with other businesses in your community 
  • Tap your trade association 
  • Reach out to CPAs who are posting relevant content on LinkedIn and other social media
  • Attend online webinars hosted by CPA firms 


With the business environment changing rapidly, a great CPA can be a powerful ally. The more you cultivate the relationship, the easier it will be to make the right financial decisions to keep growing your business in the months ahead.


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