Cut your CPA Bill and Save Money

Finding the right bookkeeper and setting up some simple steps can help you save bundles of money on your CPA’$ bill$.

When the tax season approaches, or especially if your company needs proper financial statements for your banker, investors or partners, or if you are preparing for an audit, it doesn’t pay to have a CPA perform the routine tasks of balancing accounts and putting your books in order.

First, and most important, a good bookkeeper will help you make sure that you don’t wind up paying your CPA firm to untangle and reconstruct an accounting mess.

In fact, the best way I can describe how this works is to use an old Quaker State Oil television commercial as an illustration. Do you recall the mechanic standing in front of a car saying that you can pay a small amount now to change your oil and maintain your car? Then, in the next scene, the same mechanic pops up from under the hood of the now disabled car and, with a big smile, says, “or, you can pay me later (meaning with a large repair bill)”.

Well, think of your bookkeeper as the oil and the mechanic as your CPA. Some of the highest fees I’ve received are from clients who have used an unqualified person to keep the books. The reconstruction of those records can become amazingly costly. Enough said about having the best bookkeeper you can get.
Can a good bookkeeper save you and your company money when working with your independent CPA?  Absolutely!

Now, let’s assume you have a good bookkeeper. What then?

In general, CPA’s are paid based on the amount of time they spend working on your account. With hourly rates ranging up to several hundred dollars an hour, any time saved on their part goes directly into your company’s pocket.

How should you begin to find ways to manage your CPA bill with your bookkeeper? The best place to begin is to have a meeting with your CPA and bookkeeper. When you make the appointment be sure to let your CPA know that you want to use his or her time most effectively.

As a general guide you may want to discuss the following with your CPA.

  • Ask exactly what documents are needed at year end. Then ask in past years, what work the CPA has performed on each document and how you can give him or her better, more complete information.
  • Can any of the accounting records or worksheets provided to your CPA be reformatted to match those used in your CPA’s office?
  • Ask what has been the most time-consuming parts of your CPA’s work on your account.
  • Find out if you can supply your CPA with information in an electronic spreadsheet (1-2-3, Excel, etc.) to save time.

By now you get the general idea. Certainly every CPA-client situation will be unique. What is most important is to communicate with your CPA your desire to most effectively use your bookkeeper to support his or her efforts.

P.S. When it comes to spending money on your books, don’t skimp. If you try and cut costs and make price point your main objective instead of quality and service, chances are you are going to a seminar!

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