Becoming A Pro Accountant

Skills you need to nurture as an accountant

If you are striving for a successful career in accountancy, there are a number of key skills which you should look to develop and build upon throughout your career. A combination of accredited qualifications and excellent interpersonal and professional skills will enable you to pursue the successful career you are aiming for.

Adaptability

The accounting industry is changing rapidly. The role of the accountant is becoming more of an advisory one as technology automates processes and removes the need for paper. Clients have new expectations, and accountants can now collaborate and work with their customers in real time.

Openness

Honesty is highly valued in the accounting world. Accountants and the firms they work for pride themselves on adhering to the highest ethical standards and always treating their clients with honesty and integrity.

Strategic decision-making

Automation of many administrative tasks means accountants have more time to focus on the strategic decision-making side of their role; and clients know this.

Information technology expertise

Accountants should look to be knowledgeable in general IT and accounting software, especially when it is likely your client will know how to use it too.

Should I Be an Accountant? Questions To Help You Find Out

You’ve done the research. You know that accountants are in demand and that earning an online accounting degree could lead to a secure career with plenty of opportunity for advancement. But have you asked is accounting right for me, or have you answered the question should I be an accountant?

Not everyone is cut out to be an accountant. You need to enjoy both technology and numbers as well as working with people and being a leader. You need to be able to sweat the details yet understand the big business picture.

Are you detail oriented?

If you’re a detail-oriented person, you pay attention to the little things. That means you may like sharp creases in your jeans and crisp shirts, but it goes beyond attire or an obsession with making lists. It means you’re conscientious and focused on accuracy and precision. You pride yourself on being a perfectionist. You’re also patient and persistent in pursuing answers to challenging questions.

Are you a good communicator?

Bet you thought accounting was just about math. While it is a numbers-based profession, real-world business problems do not present themselves as mathematical equations, even if math is required to solve them. You need to be good with words – a careful and critical reader, and a good oral and written communicator, able to present and explain financial data, new regulations, financial results and business projections.

How do you feel about being the center of attention?

Some people think that accountants work in solitude in a back office where no one will bother them. While that may have been true generations ago, with the reshaping of today’s business environment, accounting has moved to the forefront. Accountants are called upon to make presentations. They lead teams. So even if you have the best accounting skills in the world, you may not get hired unless you’re also outgoing.

Why is Accounting Important?

Accounting is important for small business owners as it helps the owners, managers, investors and other stakeholders in the business evaluate the financial performance of the business. Accounting provides vital information regarding cost and earnings, profit and loss, liabilities and assets for decision making, planning and controlling processes within a business.

The main objective of accounting is to record financial transactions in the books of accounts to identify, measure and communicate economic information. Moreover, tax reporting agencies require you to keep books at a minimum level that tracks income and expenditure.

What Is the Purpose of Accounting?

Accounting is often referred to as “Language of Business”. It is a means of communicating financial information to different users for decision making.

RECORDING TRANSACTIONS

The primary role of accounting is to maintain a systematic, accurate and complete record of all financial transactions of a business. These records are the backbone of the accounting system. Business owners should be able to retrieve and review the transactions whenever required.

BUDGETING AND PLANNING

Business owners need to plan how they allocate their limited resources including labor, machinery, equipment and cash towards accomplishing the objectives of the business.

Things Every Accountant Needs at Their Desk

Want to make your day-to-day at the accounting firm more enjoyable? Check out our list of things you need at your desk to see how you can upgrade your work experience.

You spend a lot of time at work. Your desk is practically a second home, which means you should make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. To that end, we’ve put together a list of four things every accountant should keep at their desks to make the time you spend at work better.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

When it’s time to buckle down and focus on your work, you need to be able to control your environment as much as possible. That means you need to be able to block out the sounds of your busy office—printers whirring, phones ringing, co-workers chatting. And unless you prefer total silence, noise-canceling headphones are going to be your best option. Noise-canceling headphones come in all kinds of shapes and sizes (as a well as a variety of price points) so you can find a pair that suits your preferences. Best of all, they’re easy to use; just plug them in and only listen to what you want to, no matter how noisy your office is.

A Nice Keyboard and Mouse

Accountants spend a ridiculous number of hours at their computers. Your computer is your primary workspace, and you should make that workspace as comfortable as you reasonably can—including the way you interact with your computer. A keyboard and mouse can easily be overlooked as the least important part of your computer, but those are the pieces that you touch, tap, and hold all day long. Your interface with your computer shouldn’t feel like it was made as cheaply as possible.

Computer Glasses

Computer glasses are a must-have for anyone who spends more than a few hours staring at their computer screen each day. This is especially true if you find that your eyes feel tired or strained after a long day of work. If you’re getting dry eyes and headaches every day, stop taking so much Motrin and grab yourself a pair of computer glasses. They don’t have to be complicated or fancy. Computer glasses are essentially reading glasses designed to focus at slightly further distances than traditional reading glasses. That means that it’s easy to find a nice pair for under $20, so there’s no excuse not to keep a pair or two at your desk.

Accounting Basics

Introduction to Accounting Basics

This explanation of accounting basics will introduce you to some basic accounting principles, accounting concepts, and accounting terminology. Once you become familiar with some of these terms and concepts, you will feel comfortable navigating through the explanations, quizzes, quick tests, and other features of Accounting

Some of the basic accounting terms that you will learn include revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities, income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows. You will become familiar with accounting debits and credits as we show you how to record transactions. You will also see why two basic accounting principles, the revenue recognition principle and the matching principle, assure that a company’s income statement reports a company’s profitability.

A Story for Relating to Accounting Basics

will present the basics of accounting through a story of a person starting a new business. The person is Joe Perez—a savvy man who sees the need for a parcel delivery service in his community. has researched his idea and has prepared a business plan that documents the viability of his new business.

With thousands of such transactions in a given year, is smart to start using accounting software right from the beginning. Accounting software will generate sales invoices and accounting entries simultaneously, prepare statements for customers with no additional work, write checks, automatically update accounting records, etc.

By getting into the habit of entering all of the day’s business transactions into his computer, will be rewarded with fast and easy access to the specific information he will need to make sound business decisions. Marilyn tells Joe that accounting’s “transaction approach” is useful, reliable, and informative. She has worked with other small business owners who think it is enough to simply “know” their company made $30,000 during the year (based only on the fact that it owns $30,000 more than it did on January 1). Those are the people who start off on the wrong foot and end up in office looking for financial advice.

Outsourcing Tax Preparation Services

Tips to Find a Good Tax Preparer

This tax season is the first time many Americans will see how the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects them. Some may be pleasantly surprised by big refunds, and others may have to reach deeper into their pockets to pay Uncle Sam.

If you decide to turn to a professional to help you with your returns, your first step is to identify the type of tax preparer you need. Regardless of whether you choose a tax expert in private practice or a storefront tax-prep company, you’ll want someone who has the right experience for your particular needs and can work at a price you can afford.

Check the Tax Preparer’s Credentials

Anyone with a preparer tax identification number can handle and file your taxes, but it’s best to find someone who also can handle audits, IRS collections, and appeals, says Ann-Marie Long, a CPA and tax manager at SKC & Co., a CPA firm based in Boonton Township, N.J. Only a certified public accountant or an enrolled agent—another type of tax professional—can represent you before the IRS in those situations, she notes.

The IRS’ Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers is a good place to find tax pros with credentials and select qualifications. If you live in California, Maryland, or Oregon, ask the preparer to see a current license, which is required by law in those states.

It’s also a good idea to look for a preparer who’s a member of a professional organization and who attends continuing education classes. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants helps consumers find a CPA; it also links to state sites, some of which have search engines to find local CPAs

How to Find the Best Tax Preparer for You

Types of Tax Return Pros

You can have anyone—your uncle, your neighbor, or your best friend—prepare your tax return. But if you’re paying for this service, the person must be registered with the IRS and have a current preparer tax identification number (PTIN), which is an IRS number issued annually to eligible preparers

Eligible paid preparers fall into different categories, depending on their education, certification by professional organizations, and continuing education requirements.

Attorneys: These professionals are licensed by states or state bar associations to practice law and are subject to continuing education requirements and a code of ethics.

CPAs: Certified public accountants are professionals who have passed the Uniform CPA Examination and been licensed by state boards of accountancy; they also have continuing education requirements.

Enrolled agents: These are individuals who have passed a three-part Special Enrollment Examination demonstrating competency in federal taxation and been licensed by the IRS. They, too, have continuing education requirements.

Annual filing season program participants: These individuals are not attorneys, CPAs, or enrolled agents but have completed an IRS program and obtained continuing education.

Any other preparer with a PTIN: These are individuals who believe they have sufficient knowledge to prepare returns and have paid the fee to obtain a PTIN. They are not subject to any oversight by a state, a professional board, or the IRS

The IRS has an online directory of preparers with PTINs. It includes attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, and annual filing season program participants, but not preparers who merely have a PTIN but no other credentials. You can search for a preparer by credentials, zip code, and distance from you

(There are also enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries who are preparers with PTINs. These experts typically don’t do consumer tax returns, although they are included in the IRS directory.)

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

You’re really organized and on top of things this tax season. Good for you! You received all your W-2s and 1099s, you collected all your financial statements and receipts, and now it’s time to find someone to prepare your tax return. But there’s one problem…you’re not quite sure how to go about choosing a tax preparer.

It goes without saying that you want someone who’s qualified. But how do you know? You want someone who’s honest and reliable, too. But, again, how do you know? The last thing you want to do is search online for “tax preparers near me” and randomly pick a preparer from the list, but sometimes it feels like there’s no better way.

Relax. There is a better way. Follow these 5 tips for picking a tax preparer to help you weed out the fly-by-night preparers and zero in on the best tax professionals in your area. With a little bit of time and a few targeted questions, you can find a competent and dependable preparer to complete and file your return.

Verify the Preparer’s Credentials

There are a lot of people out there claiming to be a “tax professional.” However, just because someone hangs out a shingle and advertises tax prep services, it doesn’t mean they actually have the skill, education, and expertise to handle your return.

To increase the odds of finding a qualified tax preparer, look for someone who is credentialed. You’re much more likely to get a competent preparer if they’ve been vetted by the IRS or a state regulatory board. The most common types of credentialed preparers are certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, attorneys, and annual filing season program participants.

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

If you’re expecting a tax refund, you may be eager to file your taxes as soon as possible so you can pay off debt, build an emergency or other savings account or shop for any number of previously unaffordable consumer goods

However, rushing into a relationship with the first tax preparer you find could be a big mistake. The IRS recommends choosing a tax return preparer carefully, since no matter who prepares your taxes, you’re still ultimately responsible for all the information on your tax return

Understand tax preparer qualifications

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there are around 700,000 non-credentialed tax preparers in the U.S. Many states don’t require tax preparers to pass an exam or obtain a license. While non-credentialed tax preparers may be top-notch preparers, they have limited representation rights and can’t represent you in court or regarding appeals or collection matters.

Search by qualifications

If you need a tax preparer with specific qualifications such as enrolled agent, attorney, Certified Public Accountant or enrolled retirement plan agent, search the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications

Interview tax preparers

Make sure a tax preparer has an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN) through the IRS and check whether the person meets state requirements. Then interview the tax preparer thoroughly. Ask about fees, availability and what kinds of records the tax preparer will need.

How to Choose the Right Tax Preparer

It is that magical time of the year again and if you are looking for someone to prepare your taxes, there are many factors to consider including expertise and pricing. We are all unique and there is no one size fits all. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!

Find out what their tax background and experience is. What is their training? What are their qualifications and credentials? How long have they been preparing tax returns? Also, some tax preparers are not a certified public accountants (CPA) and don’t have a formal credential but yet may be competent. Ask questions to find out what makes them qualified to prepare tax returns

Find out if the tax preparer has experience with the type of return that you must file. Tax returns are not all the same and range from 1040-EZ to various involved schedules. Tax preparers may focus on a certain type of return but may also have sufficient knowledge in many areas.  However, if your return is specialized, you will want to find a tax preparer who has a lot of experience with that type of return. . Ask about their experience with individual returns vs. corporate returns. In my experience, tax preparers who specialize in corporate tax returns, which tend to be more expensive, charge a higher minimum fee. This is something to keep in mind if you are only looking for personal tax return preparation.

Ensure that the tax preparer is familiar with the requirements of the states and localities that you must file in. For example, if you live in one state but work in another, there may be filing requirements to consider. Also, you may have a business that has sales in different states, own property in another state or have relocated to a different state during the year

Know in advance what records, documents and other information that the tax preparer will require of you. This could save you time and money. A competent tax preparer will ask for many different documents and be able to explain what you will need to provide for special circumstances you may have. Personally, I like it when a tax preparer offers a thorough checklist to review, which would enable a thorough tax preparer to make sure nothing has been missed, such as long-term care insurance premium deductions, investment fees or student loan payments.