How do I choose an accountant for my small business?


I want to register a small work from home business and do yearly audits. I have found a tax consultant and we exchanged more than dozen emails. After I asked him about where he got his certification and did specialization, he told me that he cannot help on such level. I told him that I don't need anything special and he questioned why I would need all these details.

Maybe I am too picky here but I just want to be sure I am in reliable hands. He works in an office with several other accountants.

Should I be suspicious here or not worry too much since I will manage the financials on my own? How should I go about finding a legitimate accountant for my small business? How can I verify the credentials of an accountant?

Consulting Tax Accounting Small Business

asked Oct 24 '11 at 06:37
21 points
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3 Answers


You are right to be suspicious. You have the right to interview an accountant (or any other professional) before engaging in a business relationship. Asking about certifications is perfectly reasonable, and I can't think of a reason why he would be so defensive about it, unless he is trying to hide something.

My advice is to walk away and find another accountant. The best way is to ask those you know if they have any recommendations.

Also see this question, you might find it useful: What questions should I ask when interviewing a potential accountant?

answered Oct 24 '11 at 08:11
Zuly Gonzalez
9,194 points
  • Well maybe if i asked such questions he through that i want someone serious? We exchanged around 20 emails to be honest. Maybe small business novice entrepreneurs do not need to ask such questions since i will be doing bookkeeping. In this case, how can he screw up? Small business registration and end year tax audit is all he will do. – Sparkubullet 12 years ago
  • 20 emails is excessive - sure he gets pissed. That said, certification is basic. Certification, price, finished. – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • Will he fit for yearly audit? – Sparkubullet 12 years ago
  • I hve been running business all over europe and an accountant has to be certified AND is liable for errors he makes, so at the end ANY auditor is fit for yearly audit or out of the job anyway. How can an auditor not be certified in the first place? You guys have no regulations in place for something like that? – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • I read article that stated that sometimes there are "accountants" that claim to be accountants but lack the proof of certification. – Sparkubullet 12 years ago
  • So after proof of certification (followed by sending letter to attorney general for the fraudsters) nothing more is needed, or? – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • Needed of course but certification is first thing to ask to make sure he/she is legit. – Sparkubullet 12 years ago


You need a recommendation from someone. Use whatever networks you have to get one. Even a recommendation from a friend of a friend is better than going blind.

If you post your location, maybe someone here will give you one.

answered Oct 24 '11 at 08:10
1,936 points
  • I am in Israel. You know, it is different here than in USA... The mentality, attitude. But the accountant seems to be russian. Russian is my primary language while hebrew is secondary and english is tertiary. I thought i would be comfortable with him and besides, he is lcoated miles away but charges $140 more than one in my area. – Sparkubullet 12 years ago


In the USA I would ask about recommendations, certifications, experience with companies similar to yours. I would also check a state board of accountancy to see if there were any issues with this accountant in the past. I would also look at his/her prices, but I would not go after the cheapest one I can find because in this industry you do get what you paid for. Better be in hands of an experienced professional who will cover all your bases than to save a little now and then go and spend 10 times more to fix messed up records / taxes.

I, however, noted that you are in Israel. I am not sure about how that works there, but I would imagine you can ask the same question. If the guy is legit, why would he not disclosure his certification, etc.?

And when you say "year-end audit" do you just want him to review your bookkeeping and prepare the tax return? If so, I would not call it an audit. It's tax return preparation. An audit if when an accountant obtains reasonable assurance that your financial statements are free from material misstatements. In the USA an audit usually costs more and is only normally required if you need to provide your financial statements to a bank, another lender or you have public debt or equity.

Finally, 20 emails seems a little over the board. I would just give him a call or ask him to call you. I would call you back if I am an accountant interested in new clients.

answered Oct 28 '11 at 12:12
323 points
  • I think you're right. It is tax return preparation. You see, i look for cheap because in the first year i do not expect much profits if at all. I don't feel right about paying premium until at least i reach break even point. However if that would mean more competency and preventing possible ommissions that cheaper accountant could have made i would choose premium. – Sparkubullet 12 years ago
  • My question would be why do you need to pay a premium? Usually if the accountant knows what he is doing, it takes him less time. If somebody does not know what he is doing, then he will have more chargeable hours, but at a lower rate. In the end, it should be pretty much equal. In terms of selecting a good accountant: If you feel your business will grow large enough at some point (which I hope you do), then you may need a qualified accounting professional from the beginning. – Vasiliy 12 years ago
  • Can i start with less expensive accoutant and later expand with professional accountant? Is transfer complex? – Sparkubullet 12 years ago

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