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Senior Contributor

Meeting accountant.

I have a meeting with an accountant coming up. Ive never used an accoutant before. Does anybody have advice on what questions to ask? So far I have things like:
Employee pay and taxes
Landlord pay and taxes
Estate planing
What level of record keeping he wants each of us to do
Financial decision making help.
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7 Replies
Advisor

Re: Meeting accountant.

The fact that you haven't required the services of an accountant up til now probably means that will probably be a rather benign exercise
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Honored Advisor

Re: Meeting accountant.

It depends upon what you want the accountant to do. Ours originally just did income tax returns for us. I still do all our totals, list equipment purchased by month that year, and sit down once a year with her. I could never handle all the different returns, because we have two LLCs, and farm and other forms of income, in two states. Depreciation is a big, hairy bear that she handles properly.

In the ensuing years, I have started getting the payroll calculation for each employee's salary done each year, which takes into account tax code changes and raises. I still do my own withholdings filings for state and federal, and my iwn W-2 and W-3, and 943 annual filing.

Estate planning will take a good attorney, familiar with farming and farm families. The accountant ought to be able to give you a decent referral.

Your accountant may point you towards a software program that syncs easily with the work they do. Make sure it is user friendly for you and your operation.

The level of work you want done for you will drive what the services cost you. Accountants are not cheap, but neither are tax errors. I do the routine bookwork, and hand totals over at tax time, as mentioned, and our bill is still several thousand a year.

As for financial advice, you have to have a clear concept of what you want in life, for anyone to advise you well.
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Highlighted
Senior Contributor

Re: Meeting accountant.

1099's still confound me. Who needs to have one sent to them, etc.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Meeting accountant.

I request the SS# and mailing address for anyone who foes anything for us in excess of $600 a year, unless they are incorporated. I understood that as the threshhold for a1099 filing, which you transmit via a 1096, right?
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Senior Advisor

Re: Meeting accountant.

An accountant is not and should not be a decision maker, but that person may give you the tools to help you make decisions.  You can not cede financial responsibility to the accountant so do not cede authority beyond that you are comfortable with.

An accountant may take a much more conservative approach to decision making than you would.  The CPA will not want to be wrong, but they can be in not taking enough risk.

If you have goals that are pretty firm, I'd suggest you share them.  For example, if you know you have children who want to enter the business or if you are certain you want to sell out at 65 or some such concept.  If you love livestock or prefer only crop farming, the CPA may not care very much about that but it might help him/her know where you may be 5-10 years from now.

The CPA can give you some pointers on structuring your business, but you will want to look at several aspects, not just the cPA point of view.

The CPA can keep a better eye than you on some aspects like medical insrurance for employees, etc. that is filled with detail and may have important repercussions.

I'd treat the CPA like a doctor, lawyer, trusted mechanic, etc.  Someone to bring expertise and experience to your situation but not someone who will make decisions.

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Advisor

Re: Meeting accountant.

Unless there is something urgent I'd go slow on any major changes to estate planning or business structure until you've got a good feel for him/her.

 

Just simply a fact that lawyers and accountants are generally happy to take on that lucrative extra work, doesn't necessarily mean its the right time for you.

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Meeting accountant.

First meeting went well. he ansewered many of my questions before I asked. I was thinking meeting quarterly but he said he didnt think it was necessary. So I don't feel he is trying to brum up more business just to get more money from me. He did think I need to set up a LLC, which he can't do. Also he wanted to bring in my wife and parents, who still own some of the assets of the farm, to make sure we were all on the same page. That was a great help since they haven't done any estate planing. He also asked a lot of questions so he could understand as much as possible about my plans and goals. He said he likes to take a wholistic approach to helping people through accounting and financial decision making. I could tell from examples he gave about his other clients that he understands farming pretty well also.
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