Finding a Tax Planning Professional

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What makes a good tax planner?

Finding a Tax Planning Professional

If you decide to meet a tax planning professional face-to-face, there are a variety of professionals for you to choose from. Many are specialized in tax areas such as estates and trusts, real estate, and international business. Others may be specialized in business taxes, small business ownership, and/or individual income taxes. There is bound to be a tax planning professional available that suits your needs. Here is a sampling:

Certified Public Accountants (CPA). After passing an arduous and length professional exam plus going through the required training and application process, one obtains the CPA designation. These individuals have their main bread and butter come from knowing the tax laws. Tax season is their busy time of the year. With that knowledge about preparing income taxes, comes the knowledge about knowing how to prepare, save, and budget for taxes. Plus, CPAs need to keep current with tax laws through continuing professional education. Their fees may be higher than other professionals, however. Check with your state's Board of Accountancy for competence and licensure.

Tax preparation firms. You know tax preparation firms know the tax laws. That is part of the requirement. Some also offer other services to keep them busy during the ‘off season'. This means that they have services available for their clients on a year round basis. However, did you know that one, in particular, offers financial advisory and tax planning services?

Attorneys. Many attorneys offer tax planning services. Otherwise known as a Tax Attorney, they specialize in various areas of tax that involves their clients. For instance, since many attorneys also deal in estates, inheritances, and divorce, taxes come into play. Tax attorneys usually have the JD designation and years of study. Check around to see what is offered in your local area.

Enrolled Agents. Enrolled Agents, trained and certified in the IRS Tax Code, can also help you with your tax planning needs. Many retired Agents open up private practices after retirement from the IRS. Look for them in your phone directory.

Certified Financial Planner. These professionals have obtained the highest level of achievement in the financial planning field by passing an industry exam. They can help you with tax planning in a variety of areas.

During your process of choosing a tax planning professional there are some things you need to do:

  • Get referrals or feedback regarding them.
  • Ask questions about their licensure, background, specialties, etc.
  • Watch and listen to their manner of responding to your questions. If they are offended, drop them. You need to be comfortable with the responses.
  • Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for any feedback.
  • Check with your state licensing organization to ascertain current licensure.
  • Check with your state's Better Business Bureau for postings from prior customers.
  • Ask if the professional specifically deals in your tax planning area of interest.
  • And, of course, ask their fee.
  • Find out what this fee includes. Do you have unlimited phone conversations? Or, does the fee only include two phone calls per month, as an example. Does it include any updates? Printed literature?
Characteristics of a good professional tax planner include:

  • Goes through an information gathering interview process with you.
  • Considering your goals, desires, and needs regarding your financial portfolio
  • Presents information in an easy to understand manner.
  • Welcomes your questions.
  • Does not question you when you question their background, specialties, or qualification



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