It’s time to file your taxes. You’ve been pinning numerical boxed-papers to your fridge for the past month, waiting for RRSP slips, T4’s, donation receipts, investment mumble-jumble that your not sure is related but leaving it for someone else to interpret later, eligible expenses (are my receipts for contact solution from Shopper’s worth saving?, your bus passes and a sampling of random other papers. The pile now requires 8 magnets and 3 sub-piles and still forms seem to be hitting the floor daily. You know you’ve received all the forms you need, and are ready to take the next step for filing, but what next step should you take?
A few years ago, when I took over my filing from my parents (my parents filed for me until I graduated university, lucky me), I used my dad’s accountant the first year. My mom uses PWC, and her tax specialist probably was beyond what I thought my simple return should be. I was reassessed (something about ineligible deductions), and never ever met the accountant face to face, while facing premium rates. I decided the cost was not worth the hassle, and was kind of annoyed at the reassessment, and having to pay more mid-summer. The next year I actually went to the post office (remember those?) and picked up one of those green books, figuring it couldn’t be that hard. While the boxes are all numbered and in theory it shouldn’t be difficult, I became frustrated, did not get the correct numbers, and took my forms over to H&R block. That was my first experience with H&R block (I’ve used it one other year) and while I like the price in relation to what else is out there, I didn’t think the price matched the lack of service, advice or questions I thought were needed by an accountant to properly file a return. Another year I had my bookkeeper offer to do my return for free (which I accepted, of course) and I’ve also mulled over Turbo-Tax, however I would ultimately like to end up with an accountant I admire, trust, is accessible, says what he is going to do in the timeframe established in the onset, and is transparent. Perhaps because I am not an accountant, however when I see you entering numbers into a return for my Canadian taxes, and then telling me you won’t have my US taxes done for 2 weeks and don’t say why, I’m going to wonder how on earth 1 return could possibly take that long, and mark it as incompetence on your part. My issue though is not in determining the type of accountant I want, but actually finding that accountant in Toronto. Whenever I Google for accountants, the focus seems to be on corporate filing, and I have yet to discover local-H&R type of setting (with a focus on personal returns) in a proper accountant setting. Am I missing the ‘find-an accountant’ webpage?
A brief survey conducted through my @financeyourlife Twitter account found that accountants recommend you ask your family and friends for suggestions for accountants if you are in the search, and local firm Crowe Soberman suggests looking for an accountant who is dependable, capable and of a good character.
All well and good, however accountants still generally only meet with you when you are actually filing – so does this mean I’m going to have to go through one a year with the hopes of eventually finding an accountant I’m comfortable with?
Share your stories – good or otherwise here: How did you find your accountant? Have you referred your to others? What strengths are important in accountant or professional service provider in general to you?