Maybe the April 15th tax deadline is approaching, or maybe you’re looking to get some financial guidance regarding your business, when you have the thought, “Do I need to get a CPA?” The answer may surprise you. Sure, a CPA or certified public accountant is a reputable advisor when it comes to financial guidance for individuals and businesses, but you may be surprised to know that you can get the same assistance from other non-licensed yet still highly qualified professionals!
What is a CPA?
A CPA is a certified public accountant. What does this mean to you exactly? CPAs are commonly considered among the most reputable in the accounting profession because they must meet a variety of criteria to obtain the fancy title. Each state has different criteria to become a certified public accountant, but all CPAs must:
- Pass a CPA and ethics exam
- Meet a specific number of credit hours, majority of which are accounting related
- Have a bachelor’s degree
- Work a minimum number of hours to obtain field experience
Do I Really Need a CPA?
The simple answer to this question? Probably not. Although CPAs have a very prestigious title, it also comes with a cost. Depending on what you may need assistance with, there is an abundance of other highly qualified resources or professionals that can assist you. Most of these other professionals are also cheaper and more affordable! You can still get the qualified help you need while saving a little money. Sounds promising doesn’t it? Some common issues you may need financial assistance with are:
- Tax Preparation
- No matter what situation you may find yourself—self employed, retired, a student, a business owner, or a non-profit organization representative—everyone needs to file a tax return or gather all of your important tax documents to correctly complete your annual taxes.
- Bookkeeping for a Business
- This would be someone who can review your balance sheets, general ledgers, verify expenses, and process payroll.
Other Options Besides a CPA
If you find yourself in a financial bind or confusing situation where you do want to seek professional assistance, before making an appointment (probably three to four weeks out) with a CPA (also for a costly fee), try one of these more common and trendy alternatives:
- Hire a non-licensed yet qualified and experienced bookkeeper or accountant for your company.
- Use local or large companies known for their tax preparation assistance.
- Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block are some common names known nationwide. But for a more personalized experience there are many local companies who do the same job while providing an overall better experience.
- Purchase bookkeeping or tax preparation software.
- Find free or low cost online tools and resources.
Why You Probably Shouldn’t Use a CPA
As mentioned previously, the main reason you don’t need a CPA is because you don’t have to spend such a hefty amount of money for a job that other qualified professionals can do for a lower cost! Once again, CPAs are certified public accountants meaning they have been licensed. However, many qualified bookkeepers and accountants have an abundance of field experience to do the same job. After-all—All CPAs are accountants too! In addition to saving money by not using a CPA, you can also benefit by:
- Local and corporate accounting firms often have a larger staff which allows for more convenient scheduling that fits your needs! If you need help sooner rather than later, you can get that meeting setup much quicker.
- Finding the right CPA could be a challenge in itself! Rather than simplifying the financial burden, you now have to figure out who you can really trust with your finances. The time spent searching the internet for positive reviews and experiences so that you know that you picked the right certified public accountant may have set you back on time even more. Choosing an accounting company, whether local or a large corporation, you can trust the professionals assisting you are backed by highly trusted companies and brands.
- The future is moving digital! Many CPAs still process their work manually in a technology savvy era. Many tax or bookkeeping softwares and websites double check your own work and allow you to feel confident that you completed your taxes or ledger books correctly. CPAs, although highly qualified, can have errors which you may not be able to catch.
- If you are looking for assistance filing taxes, you can bring your questions and paperwork to an accountant who can assist you and prepare you for filing. Once you have your information and paperwork gathered, you can use a filing tool online to do the hard parts for you! You just have to plug in the correct information a tax preparer provided for you and voilà!
- Although taxes are intimidating, majority of people actually file a simple tax return that doesn’t require help from a CPA. If you tend to take the standard deductions rather than itemizing the deductions, that makes completing your taxes even more simple!
Wondering if You Really Don’t Need a CPA?
You really don’t need a CPA! Getting financial help is of course a top priority for everyone. Depending on your situation and what specific assistance you are looking for depends on the route you may want to go. Just remember there are more simple and affordable—possibly even more convenient options out there than meeting with a certified public accountant. Find a great online tool or schedule an appointment with some local accountants or bookkeepers. You will get the help you need, the peace of mind you deserve, and a wallet that is even more happy!