Finding a CPA (Part 1)

May 13, 2008 · 2 comments

Now that I’m getting ready to actually relocate across the country, it’s time to start building my team and defining our business structure(s). With that in mind, the first team member I’ll be looking to find is a really good Certified Public Accountant (CPA), with a specialty in real estate.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get a good personal recommendation for CPA, which means I’m going to have to be extra diligent in my interviewing and screening process.

Essentially, I’m looking for someone who can provide the following services for my real estate business:

  1. Help me define the appropriate business structures, both from a legal protection and from a financial/tax perspective
  2. Help me create a tax strategy for my business that will allow me to legally keep as much money as I possibly can
  3. Help me make smart decisions with respect to individual real estate investments
  4. Prepare my annual tax returns
  5. Recommend other team members (attorney, insurance agent, real estate agent, etc) who can help make my business a success

With those goals in mind, I’ve put together the following list of interview questions that will hopefully allow me to find a qualified CPA who can successfully help me sustain and grow my business:

  • What are your credentials?
  • What services do you offer?
  • What areas of tax and accounting do you specialize in?
  • What is your background and do you personally own real estate?
  • How would I be able to communicate with you? Can I get questions answered by email?
  • Given my circumstances, what business structure(s) do you recommend? Why?
  • Can you register the business structures for us?
  • How can you help in the various phases of real estate investing (acquisition through sale)?
  • Do you specialize in tax strategy? Specifically geared towards real estate?
  • How aggressive will you be in helping us keep as much money as possible?
  • What tax strategies/issues should I be aware of upfront?
  • How often would you suggest we meet to review our progress/plan?
  • Do you do tax preparation?
  • What software do you use (and expect me to use) to do our accounting?
  • Can you help me find other team members (attorney, insurance agents, real estate agents, etc)?
  • What is your schedule of fees?
  • Do you have references?

If you can think of any other questions I should be asking, please let me know!

2 responses to “Finding a CPA (Part 1)”

  1. Ned Carey says:

    You might ask them if they are aggressive in their strategies or conservative and ask Why?

    My account said he was aggressive and said one of his clients got audited and had to pay an additional $40K. BUT he had saved $100K over the years by being aggresive so the client was still way ahead. That really changed my mind.

    Careful what yu ask him as far as legal advice. CPA shouldn’t give legal advice and attorneys shouldn’t give tax advice. Unfortunatly they may give conflicting advice when it comes to business / entity structure.

  2. […] tag with two of them, I talked to the third. I asked him questions similar to the ones that JScott ( posted. The CPA I talked to focuses on small business and has experience with real estate […]

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