Author Topic: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs  (Read 674 times)

FrugalHeights

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Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« on: February 09, 2018, 09:54:35 AM »
Hi all,

[Please point me to the existing topic if there is one already.]

How do you recommend finding and interviewing a good accountant who can help with small business taxes and overall planning for people aspired to FIRE?
Dear accountants on the forum - what do you recommend?!?!

Does anyone know a good one in Cleveland or NE Ohio?
If there is an excellent accountant elsewhere (e.g., probably the blogger Wealthy Accountant from Wisconsin is the one :) ), is it worth having an out-of-state accountant? Pros and cons?

Up until now, I have been doing taxes myself or with a little help from Online Tax Filing programs, but I think I am at the point when I would like to pay for advice to see what else is possible.

Thank you all!!


Ben Hogan

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 10:11:06 AM »
Also looking for one in Houston Texas.

SeattleCPA

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 05:50:05 PM »
My suggestion is to use TurboTax if you're finances are simple... and to simplify your finances if necessary:

https://evergreensmallbusiness.com/your-cpa-versus-turbotax/
My blog Evergreen Small Business
My free downloadable ebook: Thirteen Word Retirement Plan

FrugalHeights

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 06:01:36 PM »
Thanks SeattleCPA!

A couple of clarifications:

1) I would like to do S-corp this year. I have never ran payroll myself. It may be prudent to get an account help at least for the first year of S-corp. Am I correct? or is there a simple guide to handling S-corp accounting?

2) RE turbotax: In the past, I found that TaxSlayer gave me consistently higher returns compared to TurboTax. So I switched to TaxSlayer. One of the biggest differences was that TaxSlayer used my state tax to decided whether to Itemize or not. TaxSlayer always itemized, while TubroTax did not. I do not know whether this is correct, but this turned out to be a question of ~$1k savings for MFJ.
Would you still recommend TurboTax for S-corp filing?

Thanks again!

FrugalHeights

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2018, 09:37:13 AM »
Sorry, just found the answer to my Question #1 about S-corp in the post you referenced. Looks like the answer is Yes to having an accountant.

TaxSlayer vs TurboTax dilemma is still unclear though.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2018, 10:03:34 AM »
I have an S-corp (single member) and since it is just me I run my own payroll quarterly. I learned a ton about how to structure the S-corp and fringe benefits to minimize my taxes from the Watson CPA website and the pdf they put out each year: https://www.watsoncpagroup.com/s-corp-election/

It has been a huge help to me. I moved states last year, but was still primarily working in my original state, so I ended up setting up a phone call with them to get some advice on whether to move my business and how to do that. The 45 or so minutes was super helpful. They ran through my general business structure and personal financial goals, and gave me some pointers that actually saved me a lot of money. One thing I liked about them is that they didn't try to sell me too hard on their services. They explained what I needed to do to move my business, and said they could of course do it for me but that it was something I could probably do myself. So I did.

I don't think they are necessarily "mustachian" in that they weren't focused on early retirement, but I really like their transparent approach.

FrugalHeights

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2018, 12:33:25 PM »
Reading their S-corp stuff now... Looks like an excellent resource!
Thank you SB!

How much did you pay for your 45 min call with them, if you can divulge?

SeattleCPA

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2018, 07:13:46 AM »
For general information, you might also find our CPA firm's S corporation FAQ (see below) useful:

http://www.scorporationsexplained.com/scorpexplained-faq.htm

Regarding TurboTax vs. TaxSlayer, if you're doing your return right, you should get the same result. Also, either should work fine.

Regarding S corporation and benefit of a good tax accountant, I think with an S corporation, you optimize by having someone skilled handle the tax return and its accounting for you. If your S corp decision is a good one, you can and should (in my opinion) use $1K or $2K of your $10K or $12K S corp savings to have your returns done right.

My blog Evergreen Small Business
My free downloadable ebook: Thirteen Word Retirement Plan

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2018, 11:47:11 AM »
Reading their S-corp stuff now... Looks like an excellent resource!
Thank you SB!

How much did you pay for your 45 min call with them, if you can divulge?

Yes, I think their stuff is such a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about it. They explain things clearly and give lots of real world examples.

For the call I think it was about 140 or 150, but if I had engaged them for additional services then the fee would have been applied towards that. But I just had some questions, and after our time on the phone I actually felt more confident about just doing it myself. One thing that was helpful was that they gave me some feedback on what a "reasonable" salary was. It turns out I was paying myself too much in salary, so I was able to adjust mid year and save a considerable amount on FICA taxes.

Interestingly, they also counseled me against putting too much away in tax advantaged accounts. We have a lot of tax advantaged buckets open to us between me being self employed and my husband's work, but continued saving at that rate could mean that we have to take large Required Minimum Distributions at some point (because my husband is an academic and will likely never retire, or at least not early). It was something good to think about, because I've been thinking about the immediate tax savings without thinking about the long term implications. All in all it was helpful to get someone else's perspective.


FrugalHeights

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2018, 12:08:45 PM »
Regarding S corporation and benefit of a good tax accountant, I think with an S corporation, you optimize by having someone skilled handle the tax return and its accounting for you. If your S corp decision is a good one, you can and should (in my opinion) use $1K or $2K of your $10K or $12K S corp savings to have your returns done right.

Watson CPA materials say that there is a way to do late S corp election (for example, to elect to be S-corp for 2017 today, Feb 11 2018 ). I am still trying to figure out how much hassle it is, and whether success rate is reasonably high, and what the worst case scenario would be.

What are your thoughts on it?

My current accountant knew in May 2017 that I was already making enough money for S corp, but he said that it was too late (i.e., past March 15, 2017) to elect S corp.
I wonder why accountants do not recommend going the Late S Corp Election route?
In my particular case, if I were to do late S corp election now, and would be successful in executing it, then I would save ~$5k+ in tax even after paying extra $$ to a CPA for doing all these steps. Therefore, I am very interested in figuring this one out.

SeattleCPA

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2018, 08:12:01 AM »
Regarding S corporation and benefit of a good tax accountant, I think with an S corporation, you optimize by having someone skilled handle the tax return and its accounting for you. If your S corp decision is a good one, you can and should (in my opinion) use $1K or $2K of your $10K or $12K S corp savings to have your returns done right.

Watson CPA materials say that there is a way to do late S corp election (for example, to elect to be S-corp for 2017 today, Feb 11 2018 ). I am still trying to figure out how much hassle it is, and whether success rate is reasonably high, and what the worst case scenario would be.

What are your thoughts on it?

My current accountant knew in May 2017 that I was already making enough money for S corp, but he said that it was too late (i.e., past March 15, 2017) to elect S corp.
I wonder why accountants do not recommend going the Late S Corp Election route?
In my particular case, if I were to do late S corp election now, and would be successful in executing it, then I would save ~$5k+ in tax even after paying extra $$ to a CPA for doing all these steps. Therefore, I am very interested in figuring this one out.

You were definitely able to do a late election in May of 2017. And frankly your accountant should know that. That he or she didn't indicates probably he or she doesn't do enough S corporation tax work to provide advice in that area.

It's surely too late now... not because you can't make the election and get it to "go through" but because you need to be able to say you paid reasonable wages to the shareholder-employee in 2017 and if you're just thinking about this now, you won't have done this. You are too late. (Also the good tax accountants are all really busy for the next 2-3 months.)

If I can turn this into a little learning thing... if you're looking for a good tax accountant, you need to not shop on the basis of price. If you want a good accountant, you want someone who does a lot of work in the areas where you need help and someone who attracts clients by doing high quality work.

Note that your experience highlights this: The actual cost of using the person you used is the sum of whatever you paid them... PLUS the $5K of S corporation benefits you know you missed ... PLUS the other benefits you missed but don't know about.


My blog Evergreen Small Business
My free downloadable ebook: Thirteen Word Retirement Plan

Heroes821

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2018, 08:51:26 AM »
My accountant is in Denver Colorado, but he helped me immensely with my small business and has done well with answering my millions of questions over the years on my personal taxes.  He works with me on the other side of the country.

I don't know how helpful he is from a pure mustachian perspective, but he has been genuine in my experience.

Phil Tromburg. https://www.facebook.com/Tromburg-Consulting-LLC-714350381965175/

I like that he is tech savvy.

I can't speak for other people's experiences with him.

FrugalHeights

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2018, 10:28:36 AM »
You were definitely able to do a late election in May of 2017. And frankly your accountant should know that. That he or she didn't indicates probably he or she doesn't do enough S corporation tax work to provide advice in that area.

It's surely too late now... not because you can't make the election and get it to "go through" but because you need to be able to say you paid reasonable wages to the shareholder-employee in 2017 and if you're just thinking about this now, you won't have done this. You are too late. (Also the good tax accountants are all really busy for the next 2-3 months.)

If I can turn this into a little learning thing... if you're looking for a good tax accountant, you need to not shop on the basis of price. If you want a good accountant, you want someone who does a lot of work in the areas where you need help and someone who attracts clients by doing high quality work.

Note that your experience highlights this: The actual cost of using the person you used is the sum of whatever you paid them... PLUS the $5K of S corporation benefits you know you missed ... PLUS the other benefits you missed but don't know about.

How sad! Thanks a lot for the advice.
The sad part is that I did not shop by price. He was recommended to me by another small business owner who seemed savvy. What I am finding is that most people/business owners, especially outside this forum, are trusting blindly to accountants and are not interested in learning tax optimization and wealth building strategies. Therefore, I suspect that I may have lost and, sadly, will likely to loose money/opportunities as I am trying to find a good accountant/tax adviser. It is just so hard to judge them. One almost has to know more than the accountant to be able to test the accountant's knowledge ... chicken and egg problem.

I am crying from frustration....

My strategy forward is to start interviewing as many accountants/tax advisers in my area and beyond. Yes, I lost money in 2017 because of this, but if I do not do a thorough job looking for a right fit now, I will continue to loose money...

FrugalHeights

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2018, 10:30:42 AM »
My accountant is in Denver Colorado, but he helped me immensely with my small business and has done well with answering my millions of questions over the years on my personal taxes.  He works with me on the other side of the country.

I don't know how helpful he is from a pure mustachian perspective, but he has been genuine in my experience.

Phil Tromburg. https://www.facebook.com/Tromburg-Consulting-LLC-714350381965175/

I like that he is tech savvy.

I can't speak for other people's experiences with him.

Thanks a lot for referral Heroes821.
Could you please share his contact info? (email, phone#, etc.). I do not have facebook (social-media free! :) )

Heroes821

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2018, 11:17:07 AM »
I'll PM you.

SeattleCPA

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2018, 06:28:05 PM »
One almost has to know more than the accountant to be able to test the accountant's knowledge ... chicken and egg problem.

I am crying from frustration....

My strategy forward is to start interviewing as many accountants/tax advisers in my area and beyond. Yes, I lost money in 2017 because of this, but if I do not do a thorough job looking for a right fit now, I will continue to loose money...

You aren't going to know more tax than a good tax accountant. That's the wrong way to think. (Gosh if this even seems true about someone you're talking to, that person is not the person you want.)

You want someone who knows stuff you don't know and stuff that matters and saves you either significant taxes or meaningful amounts of trouble. And then you have to be willing and able to pay for that...

BTW one tip would be to extend your 1120S deadline (and your 1040 deadline) and then look after tax season. It'll be far easier to connect with people after the March 15 and Aprilr 15 deadlines. Just an idea.
My blog Evergreen Small Business
My free downloadable ebook: Thirteen Word Retirement Plan

FrugalHeights

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Re: Finding an accountant who meets mustachian's needs
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2018, 06:32:13 PM »
Oh! thank you! this sounds like a good idea.

Thank you SeattleCPA!