Red Flags: CPA Edition

For business owners, the relationship you have with your CPA is much like a marriage. You enter into a serious agreement with certain ethics in place, and you expect your partner to hold their end of the bargain.

However, like some marriages, these relationships sometimes end in disaster. As a business owner, you want to ensure your partner is going to hold up their end of the bargain.

We have heard some frightening stories from clients about previous relationships with CPAs and their unethical practices. If you are thinking about hiring a CPA or an accountant to assist you with your business, there are some definite red flags to look out for.

Untimeliness
As every business owner knows, submitting your taxes and payroll on time are non-negotiable options. If you have an accountant who is consistently, or really ever, submitting these documents late, there’s a real problem. These kinds of mistakes can lead to penalties, accrued interest, and even a tax lien.

Poor Communication
Finding yourself with lots of unanswered emails or lots of calls going to voicemail? This is not a good sign. Your CPA or accountant should be quick to respond to your questions or address any and all concerns. As the expert in their field, it is their responsibility to make you feel at ease about your business’s finances being handled properly.

Fixing Errors
Oftentimes business owners have a mantra of “I’ll just do it myself” when business errors are made. If you find yourself saying this phrase when it comes to your bookkeeping or taxes, it’s time to look for another professional. Your focus should be focused on your operations, not correcting your partner’s mistakes.

No Credentials
If your CPA or accountant has no accredited experience from a university or trusted accounting certification program, run in the other direction. Errors made in accounting can be extremely costly, and accounting practices cannot be learned on YouTube.

Lack of Review
If your accountant or CPA asks you to sign something without your review, chances are something fishy is happening. Whether it’s payroll, taxes, estimated tax payments, or anything in between, your accountant should always involve you in the process. No one is perfect, so a business owner and accountant should always check one another’s work and communicate openly about finances.