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Q and A: Work of CPAs varies with company

Craig Hanson answers questions on topics.

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Craig Hanson, a certified public accountant, says CPAs may specialize in certain areas, so it's important to ask before choosing a company to work with.
John M. Steiner

Craig Hanson is a certified public accountant and owner of Craig S. Hanson CPA , which provides tax preparation, tax planning, accounting and more to Jamestown and surrounding areas. He answers questions related to CPAs.

What type of work does a CPA (certified public accountant) do?
The work of CPAs can be as varied as the tax and business world creates for all of us. As things evolve in tax and business, the CPA is constantly making changes in the services we provide to accommodate the needs of the public. Traditionally, CPAs perform accounting and auditing services, tax planning and tax preparation, tax resolution services, advisory services and payroll services. Nontraditional services may include such things as trust and estate services, ballot counting and reporting, eldercare services, fraud engagements and a host of other activities. Not all CPAs work in public accounting but may work in government or industry. Because the work is so varied, many CPAs specialize and offer only certain types of services and others are generalist and try to offer many services. If you are looking for the services of a CPA, you should do some homework to make sure that the CPA can and will provide the services for your situation and needs.

What services are in most demand from Craig S. Hanson, CPA?
The services that are in most demand from my office are tax planning and tax preparation. Tax resolution services are becoming increasingly popular and will be growing as the problems the IRS has been experiencing the last few years keep evolving. Those issues will probably be with us for a couple of years, so we expect more work from this. We also provide more payroll services for those who don’t want to deal with the hassles related to business payroll and reporting.

What should people look for in 2022 related to taxes in 2023?
As it is still early in 2022, we are not sure what to expect from 2022 related to taxes in 2023. What we can say is that there will be change. These changes could be regarding new laws or increases in taxes. What is important is that you need to watch what Congress and the IRS are proposing and planning and do tax planning as these laws change. By planning all year long, you can make the necessary changes to take advantage of the tax laws and make them work for you and not working against you.

What is the advantage of having a CPA do the payroll for businesses?
Payroll can be very simple if your employees are being paid a straight wage and you don’t provide benefits. However, if your employees are paid with multiple rates, have many deductions because of the various benefits that you provide and law changes which can occur, then it may be advisable to seek help from professionals to make sure you are in compliance with all the laws, and taking advantage of incentive options if they apply to your business, and doing all the reporting that may be required. For example, the recent COVID-19 law changes and incentives programs in the payroll area provided a maze of regulations that were and are still evolving.

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What is the largest misconception about using a CPA for services?
I think the largest misconception about using a CPA for services is the idea that services are expensive. Many times when using the services of a professional the fees may seem more than what you will have to pay if you do things yourself. However, if you are not sure of what you are doing and must hire a professional to correct the problems that have occurred by doing things yourself or using inexperienced employees may end up costing you more in the long run. Think of the services of a professional as an insurance policy against potential problems down the road.

What is the advantage of using a CPA rather than using various types of software for taxes, payroll and business?
Software is great for many things these days for preparing tax returns, doing payroll for your business or for doing bookkeeping for a business. However, some software has the individual answer questions to help them provide the information needed to prepare the return. If you don’t answer the questions correctly, you may end up with a tax return that is not correctly prepared. Software in business can be useful, however, if you or your employee is not properly trained in working with that software, errors can occur. Working with a CPA to review the bookkeeping or the payroll areas of the business can correct those recording and compliance issues before they become a serious problem.

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