Regular meetings with your accountant can help you keep on top of your financials and taxes. You can ensure you make the most of your meetings, and stay prepared for the year ahead, by asking these six questions.
1. How can I help you do a better job for me?
No matter how skilled and savvy your accountant is, she can only be as good as the information she gets from you. Help her to be even better by asking for specific ways you can equip her with information.
The key is getting past the essential documents your accountant needs to do your taxes. Any good accountant will let you know if you’re missing something essential for tax preparation. But digging a little deeper into how to prepare, document, and organize your finances from an accountant’s point of view can lead you to put better practices in place every day, and achieve greater financial stability.
2. How can you help me with health care for my employees?
Your accountant is not your insurance agent, of course; he won’t tell you what coverage to offer your staff. He can, however, help you figure out the key financial details you’ll need in order to make informed decisions. For example, do you know how many full-time equivalent employees you have in your business? It’s an essential number for Affordable Care Act regulations, and it’s not necessarily the same as the total number of employees you have.
Your accountant can also help you analyze and understand your cash flow, so you can make better plans on how to work insurance options into your monthly budget.
3. How can you help me to make this tax season better than last year’s?
Taxes are always part of running a business, and you can always look for ways to improve how you handle payments, deductions, record-keeping, and so on. Your accountant, the expert on tax laws and their constant changes, can give you the insight you need.
Your accountant can help you answer questions like:
• What are the latest changes in tax law that affect my business?
• When is the best time to make big equipment purchases?
• How can I best keep track of deductions?
• How can I maximize my tax savings?
4. How can you help me better manage my cash flow?
Keeping a positive cash flow is the bane of many small business owners’ existence. It’s also an essential skill for a healthy, growing small business.
Ask your accountant to help you understand your cash flow, analyze problems or areas to improve, and make plans to better manage it. Your accountant can point out cash-flow tendencies in your business that you might overlook.
5. Are there any industry-specific tax regulations that I should know about?
Some tax regulations affect only specific industries, such as freight tax in the shipping industry, food tax in the restaurant industry, and tax on trade-in value in the automotive industry.
Industry-specific grants, subsidies, regulations, and corresponding deadlines and changes can greatly impact your business. Talking to an accountant with industry expertise can help you avoid paying taxes you don’t have to pay.
6. What changes could I make that would help my business?
Although your accountant is not your business coach or financial advisor, she is an expert in taxes and finances, and she knows your business. She also knows how to analyze and understand all that financial data you collect, every day.
It’s easy, as a small business owner, to get so busy in day-to-day operations that you don’t take the time to plan for the big picture. Use some of that time with your accountant to do just that.
As you make the most of those regular meetings with your accountant, you should see positive change in the way you organize and handle your finances. For any small business owner, that’s a great step toward a healthier business.