If you’ve ever attempted a quick Google search for CPAs in your area, you’ve probably learned there’s no such thing as a quick search for an accountant. Accounting is all about the details, and when you’re trying to find someone to handle your finances, it pays to be thorough. Your money is at stake, and you should only choose someone who has your best interests in mind. A small amount of accountants have questionable (to say the least) practices, and knowing the warning signs makes a big difference:

Outdated CPA Certificate

There’s a reason many people prefer to work with a CPA rather than a general financial planner: the title requires a higher level of expertise. In addition to years of schooling, CPAs complete exams to ensure a high-level understanding of auditing, business concepts, financial rules and reporting. It’s worth checking out the Illinois CPA Society database to ensure your accountant has retained their license.

Charges Based on Your Refund Size

Your tax refund should not be part of the equation when setting up payment for accounting services. Even an easy to complete tax return can have a significant refund, and you should not miss out on it because your accountant is overcharging. If your CPA isn’t clear about which services you are paying for, it’s time to ask a few more questions or find a new accountant.

Lack of Communication

You should always be in the know when it comes to your finances. If your accountant is keeping you out of the loop, you’re missing out on important information. In addition to open communications, you should know the strategy behind their accounting choices. Part of a CPA’s job is to provide advice based on years of experience. If your accountant is simply filling out forms and filing your returns, you’re not getting your money’s worth.

“Everyone Does It” Write offs

You might be happy that your accountant is going the extra mile to help you save, but inaccurate write offs could cost you. A commonly fudged write off is for entertaining clients. If you haven’t entertained for business purposes, and your accountant says you should take the write off, they’re probably saying the same thing to all of their clients. When people have very similar inaccuracies, the IRS is bound to investigate. Unless you want to get audited, don’t trust an accountant who is quite comfortable with stretching the truth.

When you choose an accountant, you need to ensure they aren’t just working for you, but also working with you. The best CPAs want to see you succeed and do everything in their power to help you. These accountants are available at a moment’s notice to answer questions and concerns. Do your research and choose accounting services that fit your needs – you have a vested interest in making the right decision.