How to Verify the Credentials of Your CPA

CPA Accountant Credential Verification

CPA Credential Verification

Not every accountant is a CPA, but every CPA is an accountant. Not sure what a CPA is? It’s actually the term used to describe an accountant who holds a particular certification. An accountant who holds this certification is referred to as a “Certified Public Accountant” (or CPA for short). Many accountants will attempt to throw around the title of CPA even though they may not even hold this credential. Here are a few ways you can determine whether or not the accountant on your team, or the one you are looking to hire, is really a CPA.

Inquire

Honesty is always the best policy, and if you’re not sure if the accountant you are working with is a CPA, simply put the question directly to your accountant. Many accountants will be open and transparent and tell you if they are CPAs or not. In some cases, if they are not, they will be happy to tell you either why they may have chose not to pursue a CPA or that they are in the process of becoming one. Whatever the case may be, always give the accountant the chance to answer this question truthfully.

CPA Verification

Thanks to the wonderful world of technology, a new website has been created called CPAVerify.org which allows you to verify your accountant’s credentials. This is a tool that has proven to be beneficial to hiring managers and small businesses who are interested in hiring an accountant but don’t trust that the accountant they hire will be honest about their CPA verification.

Request Referrals

Another way to practically guarantee someone’s credibility is to ask for referrals and recommendations. If you are in the process of interviewing a CPA, don’t ever be afraid to ask their former employers or teachers in order to test the accountant’s credibility. In today’s society, it appears to be much easier to cover up the truth about your employment history, and referrals are a great place to start when attempting to uncover any potential untruths.

How have you been able to determine if an accountant is really a CPA? Leave your comments below.

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Four Benefits of Ditching Your Tax Software and Hiring a CPA

Tax Software CPA Preparation

Tax Software vs. CPAs

It’s everybody’s favorite time of the year again: tax season. And while a lot of people are anticipating how they will spend their tax refund checks, plenty of other people are trying to figure out how to avoid owing any money to the IRS.

If you’re one of those people who tends to rely on tax software to do your taxes each year, perhaps it’s time to ditch your tax software and hire a CPA. Using tax software programs can be a good way to do things in certain situations, but in other situations it’s plainly inadequate.

Here are just a few benefits of hiring a CPA vs. using tax software.

A CPA Can Answer Questions on Demand

Sure, your tax software has a FAQ section, but unlike a CPA, your tax software cannot answer questions on demand. Hiring a CPA will allow you to ask questions as they come up, and doing so will also help guide you through the tax preparation process.

A CPA Can Help You Save Money

A CPA can literally walk you through the process of how to save money. Tax software will ask you questions that help you determine how to save money, but a CPA will actually show you how to save money in ways you probably never imagined.

A CPA Can Help You Gather All Your Tax Documents

Not really sure what documents you need in order to file your taxes? In most cases a CPA knows exactly what documentation you need in order to file your taxes and best of all they know how to put all of those documents into one system to get you the best deals on your taxes.

A CPA Can Help You Save Time

We all could use a little bit more time in each of our days, and a CPA can help you find that time by doing your taxes for you. No longer will you have to spend endless amounts of hours trying to determine how to do your taxes.

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Why Filing Early Can Be the Best Tax Decision You Make

Filing Taxes Early Deadline Money

Filing Early

It’s that time of year again: it’s time to file your annual taxes, and depending on your particular situation, this could either be the most exciting time of the year (because you know you’ll receive a tax refund) or the most dreary time of the year. Whatever the case may be, accounting professionals all agree on one basic piece of advice: file early.

Filing early is not only important if you want to get it out the way, it is also important for several other reasons. Here are a few of these reasons:

Filing Early Can Help Stop Identity Fraud

One common identity theft crime which often happens during tax season is the wrongful use of the personal information of an individual to file a fraudulent tax form. This is often done early during tax season, and when the actual taxpayer files they’re notified that there is already a duplicate form on file.

Filing Early Can Eliminate Stress

Yes, filing early can eliminate stress, especially if you are someone who usually waits until the last minute of the tax deadline to file their taxes. The earlier you file, the less worry you will have.

You’ll Get Your Refund Faster

If you are one of those people who are fortunate to receive a refund you should be exceptionally motivated and inspired to file your taxes early. This is because filing early guarantees you’ll get your refund that much faster.

You Might Be Eligible For Special Discounts

Several tax softwares offer a special discount if you choose to file early. There are even some restaurants who offer special discounts if you can prove that you filed your taxes early.

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Three Ways You Could Lose Money during Tax Season

Losing Money Tax Season

Losing Money

Tax season is quickly approaching. Now more than ever, Americans are doing everything they possibly can in order to make sure that they are more than prepared for what could be one of the most prosperous times of the year or one of the most financially draining. If you are like many Americans, you may struggle with how to file your taxes or struggle to find a competent professional to do them for you. Regardless of how you choose to file taxes, there are still several ways which one could lose money during tax season. Here are three ways you could end up losing money this season.

Doing Your Taxes Wrong

If you are not a CPA or an accountant you run the risk of possibly doing your taxes wrong. Doing your taxes wrong could give you a bigger refund that you may have to pay back later once the IRS identifies your mistakes.

Falling Prey to Tax Scams

During tax season many scammers begin to prey on innocent IRS tax filers by posing as the IRS and telling individuals they owe money that they may or may not owe. If you are not educated on these scam tactics you run the risk of losing money by falling prey to these predators.

Owing Back Taxes

There is nothing worse than finding out that you owe back taxes to the IRS. Any refund that you may have been guaranteed can easily be eaten away by the IRS in back taxes that you owed from years prior.

While there may be a host of other ways you can lose money during tax season, your best protection is to hire a CPA who can help guide you through tax season to ensure everything is done correctly.

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Don’t Bend the Truth with Your Tax Preparer

Increased tax rates and the rising chance of an economic recession have tempted taxpayers to cut corners when filing their taxes. However, taxpayers who think that tax preparers aren’t too capable at spotting untruth are mistaken. Here are some clear signs which give away your attempt to bend the truth to your tax preparer.SuperTaxPic

False Deductions

Keeping your receipts and documentation orderly is vital to providing proof when claiming deductions. Having a bunch of additional expenses without any paper trail is one of the biggest phony moves there is, especially if these expenses turn up after receiving a final number from your tax preparer.

Un-Qualifying Dependents

Claiming dependents is an easy way to lower your tax rate, but claiming dependents who aren’t your own or don’t exist is an illegal move. The IRS has tightened up the rules for those who claim kids for the Earned Income Credit by requiring additional documentation which shows the child has met the proper support and residency tests.

Personal and Business Expenses

These two should remain separate when filing your taxes. Although you can write off a percentage of personal expenses on items such as your vehicle and other office equipment, the rest can be very grey areas for some taxpayers. Be sure to provide specific instances of use when your tax preparer questions you about these expenses. If an item can only be sited as used once or twice towards the business it may not be a plausible business expense.

Conclusion

Taxpayers who try to cheat on their taxes are going to run into trouble. Tax preparers know the inner workings of the system and can see when you’re trying to get around paying taxes.

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Is Your Online Tax Prep Service Secure?

In most cases, online tax prep services are safe and secure. Most undergo vigorous security system tests and audits. These tests check for performance, ease of security breaches and whether or not the service truly keeps private information safe. Use reputable services with long-standing histories in online tax preparation for the best security.SecuredPic

Security Audit Passage

Of the 13 available free tax filing services online, seven passed security audits. Services that use CAPTCHA type inclusions where you have to type specific text from displayed photos are generally secure. Computers – or bots as they are commonly referred to – cannot perform this task. In the computer world, this is called botnet protection.

The seven secure tax preparation websites are:

  • TaxSlayer
  • H&R Block Free File
  • TaxAct
  • ezTaxReturn.com
  • eSmart Tax
  • FreeTaxUSA
  • TurboTax Free File

Insecure sites will not have these CAPTCHA protocols in place. These measures are put in place to ensure that a human is behind the computer wanting access to the tax preparation website.

Use the IRS’ Fillable Forms

You can use fillable forms right on the IRS’ website to complete your tax return. This is one of the most secure options for filing your taxes. Any individual can file a tax return using the Free File fillable forms. Even those that have a large list of itemizations, deductions and/or expenses can easily fill out the forms just by working line by line and reading every question thoroughly.

Closing Thoughts

Websites which do not offer visible security features or those which have been listed to have failed security audits should be avoided. Using such insecure websites will leave your personal information, including your social security number and home address, vulnerable.

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  • Huddleston Tax Accountants / Huddleston Tax CPAs – Redmond, WA
    Certified Public Accountants Focused on Small Business
    8201 164th Ave NE Suite 200 / Redmond WA 98052
    425-483-6600

    Huddleston Tax CPAs & accountants provide tax preparation, tax planning, business coaching,
    QuickBooks consulting, bookkeeping, payroll, offer in compromise debt relief, and business valuation services for small business.

    We serve Tukwila, Auburn, Federal Way. We have a few meeting locations. If you are looking for a Redmond CPA firm, get in touch with us! Call to meet John C. Huddleston, J.D., LL.M., CPA, Lance Hulbert, CPA, Grace Lee-Choi, CPA, Jennifer Zhou, CPA, or Jessica Chisholm, CPA. Member WSCPA.