When and Why You May Need an Accountant

Happy mature accountant meeting with clients

Please note the publish date of this blog. Financial information, market conditions, and other data mentioned in this post may no longer be accurate or relevant.

Navigating the complexities of the vast landscape of personal and business finances can feel like trying to decipher a cryptic code. Enter the unsung hero of fiscal sanity: the accountant. 

There are many financial reasons to hire an accountant, some of which people are generally aware of: financial expertise, time savings, tax planning and optimization, and bookkeeping, to name a few.

And yet, there are also some surprisingly human reasons to hire an accountant. Accountants are not just numbers people. They often have great empathy and understanding as well. In many ways, a tax return tells a client’s story – death, divorce, a new child, medical challenges – and I have seen clients’ accountants be extremely supportive, understanding, and compassionate when major life changes occur.

Whether you’re involved with multiple income streams, steering a business ship, or simply trying to make sense of the ever-evolving tax code, an accountant can be your financial guide. Here are some practical ways accountants can help you navigate your financial life.

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Signs It’s Time to Consider Hiring an Accountant

While there are many specific reasons you might want to partner with an accountant to organize your financial life, they can generally be distilled down to two primary categories:

  1. Growing Financial Complexity: If your financial life resembles a plate-spinning act with multiple income streams, a side hustle, or perhaps even a business or rental property, it might be time to pass the calculators and spreadsheets to a pro.
  2. Tax Tangles: Do tax forms look like a foreign language and does navigating the ever-changing tax landscape feel like a perilous journey? Are you faced with back-taxes, feel surprised by what you owe each year, or like you’re constantly running late on Tax Day? An accountant can be your trusted guide, ensuring you not only survive tax season but actually thrive.

Whether you’re trying to get ahead of future financial complexity or need help digging out of a daunting tax challenge, an accountant can help.

The Potential Benefits of Working with an Accountant

Accountants are tax savvy, but they can do far more than help complete your filing each year. They understand the ins and outs of tax law and continue their education to stay current on any changes that impact your specific financial situation. This lets them effectively help you to maximize deductions and minimize liabilities. In other words, you can have more peace around knowing you didn’t miss a crucial write-off or failed to uphold a regulation.

Beyond tax season, accountants can be strategic allies in planning your financial future. From investment advice to long-term financial goals, having an expert in your corner can make a significant difference. Accountants not only save you from number-induced headaches but also free up your time to focus on what you do best – whether that’s running a business or enjoying some well-deserved downtime.

Finding the Right Accountant For You

Anytime you partner with a professional, it’s essential to find the right person for your unique needs. After all, there is a lot of variance between professionals in any industry. Education, experience, personality, and company operating procedures can all impact your experience as a client. 

When you’re looking for the right accountant, start by thinking carefully about your unique needs and goals. Pinpoint your specific financial questions and what you’re hoping to get out of working with a tax professional. If you want someone to expertly file your return each year and maximize deductions, that may be a different type of engagement than someone who proactively partners with your financial planning team to create a forward-thinking tax strategy. 

Next, you can begin researching and vetting professionals. It often helps to start by asking your colleagues or peers about who they use. Not all accountants are created equal, and good friends or colleagues who are in a similar financial situation can share their experiences. 

Don’t have anyone you know who works with an accountant? Try researching with sites like AICPA (for accountants) or ACP (for tax savvy financial planners and accountants). Read the reviews and don’t be afraid to ask for a reference when speaking with someone new. 

Finally, it pays to understand what certifications and qualifications are important in the tax world. For example, those who hold their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) may be better qualified to assist you than those who don’t. These credentials indicate a level of expertise and adherence to professional standards that can instill confidence in your financial partnership.

Considering Costs

The costs associated with working with an accountant range widely depending on education, experience, and the niche market they serve. 

For example, working with an accountant at H&R Block to file your tax returns will be very different than teaming up with an accountant who has expertise in small business planning. Each serves a purpose, and depending on your needs, you can choose what type of engagement makes the most sense for your financial peace of mind and budget. Just remember: hiring an accountant is an investment in your financial well-being. While the upfront costs may seem daunting, the long-term benefits often outweigh the initial expenses.

It’s also worth noting that quality advice comes at a price. Be wary of accountants offering rock-bottom rates; the expertise you need might not come cheap – good financial advice is a valuable commodity.

Do You Need an Accountant or a Financial Planner?

When you find yourself with tax challenges, or are feeling overwhelmed by your financial To Do list, it may feel like a natural instinct to reach out to an accountant for help. However, in some cases, a financial planner may actually be a better first step. Here are a few things an Abacus financial planning team helps clients with: 

  1. Creating a budget, cash flow strategy, and big-picture financial plan 
  2. Helping with tax projections and minimizing your tax liability throughout the year 
  3. Maximizing your time by freeing up mental space to do what you love with the people you love
  4. Offering strategic advice based on your values, from major purchases to investments to career changes

Many financial planners have some tax expertise and partner with accountants to offer a holistic financial plan to their clients. If you feel like your money questions extend beyond your tax situation, talking to a financial planner might be the right move for you. 

DIY or Hire an Expert?

In the world of tax planning, doing it yourself can have benefits. In fact, tools like TurboTax or QuickBooks can help individuals and families with relatively straightforward tax situations take care of their liabilities year after year. However, navigating your tax maze alone can also lead to costly mistakes if you have any financial complexity in your life. 

Additionally, you may find as you get busier with family, career, or hobbies that you simply don’t have the time to handle your taxes and to do it well. Time spent wrestling with spreadsheets could be better invested in growing your business, enjoying personal pursuits, or simply relaxing. 

The opportunity cost of DIY-ing your finances can be substantial, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to work with an accountant. Take time to consider what partnering with a professional could help you gain and what pain points it would solve for you personally. 

Is an Accountant Right For You?

When trying to figure out the complex ins and outs of the U.S. tax system, working with an accountant can save you countless headaches. From deciphering tax codes to charting a course for future prosperity, their expertise is an invaluable asset. 

As you decide whether or not you need tax assistance, consider the different benefits that come with hiring an accountant. The peace of mind, time saved, and financial wisdom gained are often worth the investment, especially if you:

Finding the right accountant can significantly impact your financial situation. Working with someone you feel lukewarm about, or who isn’t an expert in your specific needs, can result in lost time and money. 

Take the time to identify your needs, research potential candidates, and ensure your accountant of choice has the certifications signifying excellence in their field. While hiring an accounting professional can seem daunting when you get started, the lifelong benefits of having an expert in your corner – especially one who is empathetic and supportive – can continue to pay dividends for years to come.

If you have more questions about what an accountant or financial advisor can do for you – especially if you’re wanting to spend more of your time doing what you love and value most – reach out and schedule a call with an Abacus advisor today.


Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. It should not be assumed that your Abacus account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories.

Please Also Note: This material is not intended to serve as personalized tax and/or investment advice since the availability and effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon your individual facts and circumstances. Abacus Wealth Partners is not an accounting firm. Abacus Wealth Partners does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax professional regarding your specific tax situation when determining if any of the mentioned strategies are right for you.


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