Selecting a tax advisor can be an extremely daunting task. There are several questions to ask yourself: What am I looking for, someone to prepare my tax returns or a qualified professional who will provide value as a trusted advisor?    Is there a particular transaction that I need assistance with, or do I want an ongoing relationship? Selecting a tax advisor is an investment worthy of the time and effort. Not only are you selecting an experienced and knowledgeable professional, but a confidant, CFO, friend and teacher.

Historically, CPAs provided either audit or tax services. Today, they assist with everything from financial planning, college funding, estate planning, insurance planning, gifting techniques and business sales – essentially most of life’s financial decisions. The days of meeting with your accountant annually are a thing of the past, as accountants have become a valuable resource to be called upon very frequently. We’ve partnered with the NJ Society of CPA’s to provide you with the key things to consider when selecting a trusted tax advisor:

  • Technical Competence – What qualifications and experience does the professional possess? He/she should at least be a CPA and/or have the enrolled agent certification. Is the professional involved with professional organizations? Can he/she take a complicated topic and explain it to you in layman’s terms?
  • Relationship – What are you looking for in a tax advisor, perhaps someone to bounce ideas off of?  You should feel comfortable enough to ask questions as well as trust the person to indicate that you’re worried you may not have enough money saved for retirement.
  • Proactive and Responsive – Will the person be available for questions or advice? How urgent does he/she treat phone calls or emails? Will he/she be available in the case of a notice or an Internal Revenue Service audit? Does he/she bring ideas to the table that relate to your personal or professional situation?
  • Comprehensive Analysis – Does the person ask probing questions or offer advice and alternative options? Is he/she an unbiased opinion that you trust versus someone simply trying to sell you a financial product or service?
  • Pricing – Has the fee structure been clearly explained and is it a fair price for the services to be rendered? Communication and clarification are essential. Make sure that you are made aware of any fees before they are incurred so there are no surprises.

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Remember, you may, at times, be too emotionally invested in a financial situation or lack the expertise to judge it properly. Why not put your faith in a trusted business advisor who can confidentially guide you through potentially complex financially matters. Most importantly, have a conversation with a potential tax advisor; you’d be surprised at what you come away with just by having a conversation.

This article was sponsored by the New Jersey Society of CPA’s. For more information, you can view their website by clicking HERE.

By Maryann T. Reyes, CPA, PFS, is a tax senior manager at WeiserMazars LLP in Edison. She is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. Contact her at