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How to Evaluate Your Tax Advisor

Ever feel like we should rename Tax Day to Groundhog Day 2.0? We just finished filing last year’s taxes and—surprise! Tax season is here again. It never ends!

Forget Punxsutawney Phil—Uncle Sam saw his shadow this year, which means six more weeks of waiting for your refund.

Okay, not really. But you have to admit, tax season can feel like a never-ending cycle of inconvenience and stress. It’s one of those adult-ish things no one wants to do.

But it’s not all doom and gloom—there is good news! If you have a tax situation that’s more complicated than just a simple W-2 and standard deduction deal, working with a tax advisor can be a game-changer. They can make your filing experience a lot less stressful.

Maybe you’ve been working with a tax pro for years. Or maybe you’re thinking of hiring one for the first time. Either way, it’s a great idea to take a step back and evaluate what you’re looking for in a tax advisor and how they’re helping you save time and money.

Let’s look at some questions that will help you evaluate your tax advisor and be sure you’re making the most of the services they provide.

Questions to Evaluate Your Current Tax Advisor

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to start looking for a new tax advisor, here are some questions to ask yourself. Consider it a quiz, like the kind your favorite Social Studies teacher gave—no stress, no grade. Just friendly food for thought. We love that kind of quiz.

1. Am I happy with my tax advisor’s communication with me?

A great tax advisor takes the initiative to communicate with you, based on your preferences for when, how, and how often. If you have to leave a barrage of voicemails and unreturned texts before they finally get back to you, that’s not a good sign!

Good communication is part of being a professional, and your tax advisor shows respect for your time and business when they get back to you on time. It’s just plain-old good customer service.

Every time you meet with your tax advisor, whether in person or online, you should feel more knowledgeable and more empowered to make good decisions about your financial moves and tax situation.

Taxes are complicated, and if your tax guy isn’t good at explaining them in a way you can understand, that’s not going to help you work better together.

2. Is my tax advisor available year-round for advice and guidance?

If your tax pro comes out of hibernation in January to help you file your returns during tax season, then disappears again from May to December, it’s time to look for a new tax pro.

You want someone who you can rely on to answer questions and give advice, no matter the time of year. Listen, folks—life can happen in the blink of an eye, both the good and the bad. Your spouse gets laid off. You find out you’re having twins (Hooray!). You buy your dream property for a steal. You retire earlier than planned because of health reasons. You quit your job and move across the country to take care of aging parents.

Yep, life can throw some major curveballs our way (understatement of the year, right?).

But having a tax advisor in your corner who’s available to help throughout the year—whether that’s simply answering your questions or taking on your small business’ payroll and bookkeeping—can save you a lot of financial headaches.

3. Does my tax advisor take the time to understand my long-term financial goals?

One of the signs you’re working with a great tax pro is that they look at the big picture. They understand your long-term financial goals and help you with tax planning, always keeping those goals in mind.

 Don’t let taxes overwhelm you. Connect with a RamseyTrusted tax advisor.

Of course your tax pro wants to help you on this year’s taxes, but you want an advisor who will also approach your taxes with the end game in mind.

Maybe you’re working the 7 Baby Steps to become debt-free, or maybe you’re saving as much as possible so you can retire early in the next five years. Wherever you happen to be on your financial journey, keep your tax advisor in the loop about your money goals. They can work with you on a customized tax plan to keep more of your hard-earned money out of Uncle Sam’s hands. Then you can reach your financial goals more quickly!

Finding a tax advisor who shares your values and understands your financial journey is important. If you’ve been working with an advisor for years now and it feels like they’ve forgotten your long-term goals or changed their focus, set up a meeting to discuss it. Share your concerns. You’ll be able to tell by their response if it’s time to find someone else to work with.

4. How does my tax advisor help with my small business?

If you have a small business or if you’re dreaming about starting one someday, it’s easy to forget about how complicated small-business taxes can get—and how much of your time and attention they can demand.

That’s why you need a tax pro who has experience working with small-business owners and can help you navigate through small-business tax rates, estimated taxes, and which deductions you qualify for as a business owner. The last thing you need is to stress about what kind of tax penalties and fees you’ll face if you haven’t been planning correctly. Let a professional handle it!

Certified public accountants (CPAs) are advisors who specialize in tax preparation and planning, but they can also offer a bunch of other services to help you throughout the year—from bookkeeping to long-term financial planning. If your tax situation is really complicated, a CPA can help with advice on tax strategies based on your circumstances.

If your current tax advisor doesn’t offer any help with small-business taxes, bookkeeping, or payroll, it might be time to find a new pro. Our RamseyTrusted program can connect you with an advisor who has the right certifications and experience with small-business taxes you need in a pro.

5. Does talking with my tax advisor make me feel more knowledgeable or more overwhelmed?

One of the perks of hiring a tax advisor is their expertise in all things tax. They can decode all those tax rules and regulations for you and translate any tax forms you get from IRS-ese to plain English.

We’ve already mentioned the importance of good communication, and part of that is your tax pro’s ability to teach you and help you understand the details—the who, what, when, where, why, and how of taxes—without making you feel like a five-year-old.

And here’s a good litmus test: If your tax advisor gets annoyed when you ask questions or refuses to explain something in a way you can understand, that’s a pretty clear sign that it’s time to find a new pro.

Questions to Regularly Ask Your Tax Advisor

Now that we’ve evaluated your tax advisor and how they are (or aren’t) helping you with your personal or business taxes, let’s look at some questions you should regularly ask your tax advisor.

These are questions that will help make sure you’re both on the same page about what your advisor can offer, how they work, and what they need from you to do their job well. Man, it really does all come back to good communication, doesn’t it?

1. Do you have all my current information?

Make sure your advisor is up to date on the changes in your life. Maybe you moved this year, had a child, or switched jobs. Not only do you want your advisor to have your most recent contact information, but you also want them to know about any life changes that may impact your financial situation.

2. What other services do you provide besides filing taxes?

Any good tax pro will continue to learn and expand their expertise in taxes and financial services year after year. Many will get new certifications or training in different areas of personal and business taxes to help their clients in new ways.

So, stay in touch with your pro—even after tax season is over—and make sure you have a bird’s eye view of all the different services they offer. They might be able to help in ways you haven’t even thought of yet!

We’ve said it before, but staying in touch with your tax advisor is key to getting the biggest bang for your buck when paying for their services.

3. What new tax laws and regulations should I be aware of?

Your tax advisor should be up to date with the newest tax laws and regulation updates. Don’t hesitate to ask your pro about them so you know how they’ll affect your taxes this year.

And don’t wait to discuss these updates until tax season starts—the earlier you talk with your advisor about any new changes to the tax code, the more you can adjust your tax planning accordingly.

4. What can I do differently to improve my tax situation?

Great tax professionals won’t just help you file your taxes, collect their fee, and then disappear. They’ll be there after you file to answer your questions about your tax situation.

Not only that, they can show you how to adjust your tax withholdings and get closer to that sweet spot where you’re paying almost exactly what you owe to Uncle Sam throughout the year—no more and no less.

If your tax return was a target, the bullseye would be $0, meaning you wouldn’t receive a refund, but you also wouldn’t owe anything.

But wait—don’t you want a huge tax refund? Nope. Uh-uh. We know it sounds great, but a refund’s not a gift! It’s a refund, which means the government’s been using your hard-earned money all year—for who knows what—and they’re just giving it back to you (with no interest, by the way). Does that sound like a win for you, the taxpayer? We don’t think so. 

Now, besides showing you how to adjust your withholdings, a great tax pro can suggest making some tweaks in different areas of your finances. They can walk you through how your investments are taxed, the tax implications of buying or selling a home, or when it’s a good time to incorporate your side hustle into a small business.

Even the little changes a tax pro suggests can make a big difference when it comes to improving your tax situation and keeping more of your money.

How to Find a Tax Advisor

Are you happy with your current tax advisor? Great! Keep looking at taxes with your long-term financial goals in mind and meeting regularly with your pro. Make sure you stay up to date on all the services they offer and take advantage of their expertise.

Perhaps you already have an advisor, but these questions have made you realize your current pro isn’t a great fit for you and your tax situation or needs. It’s important to find a pro you can trust, and that may mean it’s time to move on.

If you’re ready to start working with a tax advisor or to find an advisor that better fits your needs, try the RamseyTrusted program. It’s a free way to find reliable tax professionals in your area. Looking for a pro shouldn’t be complicated. With RamseyTrusted, you can interview as many pros as you want to find the best fit for you.


Next Steps

  1. Still on the fence about hiring a tax pro? Check out 5 Benefits of Hiring a Tax Advisor for a more in-depth look at how a tax advisor can help you save time and money!
  2. If you’re ready to get started with a tax advisor, check out our RamseyTrusted tax pros. They bring years of experience to the table and can help you file your taxes with confidence.
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Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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