The Consultant - 2018 - 47

YOUR BUSINESS

Choosing the Right

ACCOUNTANT or
TAX PREPARER

DR. TAMARA L. CUSHING

C

hoosing the right accountant
or tax return preparer can be
a crucial decision for forest
landowners. Part of this
important decision is based on personality,
but there are some key questions that
should be asked of potential (and maybe
even current) providers of these important
services regarding their ability to handle
specific issues related to forests.
The questions here are certainly not the
only ones that could be asked, and they
should not replace "gut feelings." They are
meant to help landowners think through
what to ask and what the accountant's or
tax preparer's responses mean.
What are your qualifications?
Before you hire anyone to keep your
financial records and/or complete your
tax return, make sure he or she is qualified
to do so. There can be several different
qualifications. Here are some to look for:
* A degree in accounting and possibly in
taxation; maybe a law degree.
Tax preparers and accountants may
lack knowledge about specific forestry
tax provisions, so having a knowledgeable forester assist you and your
accountant can be invaluable. A forester will not prepare your tax return,
but he or she may know about specific provisions and can help you take
advantage of them on the ground.
Where to look for an accountant or tax
preparer
* Ask other landowners who they
work with and trust.
* Ask a forester.
* In many states, CPAs and CFPs are
required to register with the state
licensing board for accountants/tax
preparers.
* Internal Revenue Service directory
of federal tax return preparers:
www.irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.
THE CONSULTANT

2018

* Certification by a licensing body or the
IRS. This may include CPA, Licensed
Tax Consultant (LTC), Licensed Tax
Preparer (LTP) or Enrolled Agent
(EA). Some states require paid preparers to have specific qualifications
to complete tax returns. This type of
information can often be found on the
web page for your state license and
registration boards.
What services do you provide?
You should know and understand
whether the accountant or tax preparer
actually provides the services you are
looking for. Not all tax return preparers
perform everyday accounting functions.
Determine your needs, then find out if the
accountant or tax preparer can provide
those particular services.
What percentage of your clients
have forestland?
This is a big one. You want an accountant
who is familiar with forest operations and
finances. Ask about experience with other
landowners and with properties of similar
size. Also, it is important to know whether
they have experience filing returns with
timber sales, reforestation and casualty
losses if those are issues you are facing.
How will I be charged for your services?
There can be several different answers
to this question. Be sure to determine up
front whether you will be charged by the
hour or by the form. Will you be charged
for phone calls? There isn't necessarily a correct answer for this; rather, it is
about gathering information so there are
no surprises.
How do you handle issues you are
unfamiliar with?
You may not be able to find an accountant
or tax preparer with lots of forest operations experience. By asking this question, you hope to learn how they handle

situations that aren't within their normal
operations. Are they willing to attend
continuing education in forestry-related
taxation or to dig into some of the printed
material on the subject? The provider may
have a more experienced colleague they
look to for assistance. You may need to
connect your forester with the tax preparer.
Are you conservative or aggressive when
handling tax matters that are "gray?"
Find an accountant who matches how
aggressive you are willing to be on tax
matters. If you are not willing to take
risky positions on a deduction, but your
accountant is, you will be uncomfortable. If the accountant does not want to
deduct items that you are willing to try,
the accountant may "fire" you as a client. Taxes and accounting may seem like
concrete rules, but in reality there are gray
areas that are open to interpretation.
Will you represent me if I am audited?
If you are audited, you might want to
have the tax return preparer available to
explain how to proceed and to defend
your interpretation of a specific code section. You should also find out what you
would be charged for help with an audit.
Are you available for consultation
throughout the year?
There are many strategies to reduce taxes.
Having access throughout the year to an
accountant who is familiar with your situation may help you plan transactions with
tax implications in mind.
Dr. Tamara L.
Cushing, Starker
Chair of Private
and Family Forester
and Extension forest business specialist, Oregon State
University.

47


http://www.irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Consultant - 2018

From the Executive Director End Notes
From the President ACF: Forestry, Fellowship and Value
Sharing the Stories of the Trees: ACF Distinguished Forester Jim Able
Maple Syrup: A Steigerwaldt Family Tradition
The South Carolina Chapter and Forestry Students
The Association of Consulting Foresters Celebrates 70 Years
Carbon Offsets: A Viable Opportunity for Forest Landowners?
Changes of Biblical Proportions
Forests for Fish In Michigan, Foresters and Anglers are Learning from Each Other
Case Study: Richland Township Woods, North Central Indiana
Invasive Species 101
Evaluating Forest Inventory Technology for Small Landowners
Choosing the Right Accountant or Tax Preparer
The History of Forestry in Ireland
The American Oak Project Midleton Distillery Creates Rare Irish Whiskey to Promote Sustainable Forestry
Products & Services Marketplace
Index of Advertisers
Why not Surround Yourself with the Best?
The Consultant - 2018 - Intro
The Consultant - 2018 - cover1
The Consultant - 2018 - cover2
The Consultant - 2018 - 3
The Consultant - 2018 - 4
The Consultant - 2018 - 5
The Consultant - 2018 - From the Executive Director End Notes
The Consultant - 2018 - From the President ACF: Forestry, Fellowship and Value
The Consultant - 2018 - Sharing the Stories of the Trees: ACF Distinguished Forester Jim Able
The Consultant - 2018 - 9
The Consultant - 2018 - 10
The Consultant - 2018 - 11
The Consultant - 2018 - Maple Syrup: A Steigerwaldt Family Tradition
The Consultant - 2018 - 13
The Consultant - 2018 - 14
The Consultant - 2018 - 15
The Consultant - 2018 - The South Carolina Chapter and Forestry Students
The Consultant - 2018 - 17
The Consultant - 2018 - 18
The Consultant - 2018 - 19
The Consultant - 2018 - The Association of Consulting Foresters Celebrates 70 Years
The Consultant - 2018 - 21
The Consultant - 2018 - Carbon Offsets: A Viable Opportunity for Forest Landowners?
The Consultant - 2018 - 23
The Consultant - 2018 - 24
The Consultant - 2018 - 25
The Consultant - 2018 - 26
The Consultant - 2018 - 27
The Consultant - 2018 - Changes of Biblical Proportions
The Consultant - 2018 - 29
The Consultant - 2018 - 30
The Consultant - 2018 - 31
The Consultant - 2018 - 32
The Consultant - 2018 - 33
The Consultant - 2018 - Forests for Fish In Michigan, Foresters and Anglers are Learning from Each Other
The Consultant - 2018 - 35
The Consultant - 2018 - 36
The Consultant - 2018 - 37
The Consultant - 2018 - Case Study: Richland Township Woods, North Central Indiana
The Consultant - 2018 - 39
The Consultant - 2018 - Invasive Species 101
The Consultant - 2018 - 41
The Consultant - 2018 - 42
The Consultant - 2018 - 43
The Consultant - 2018 - Evaluating Forest Inventory Technology for Small Landowners
The Consultant - 2018 - 45
The Consultant - 2018 - 46
The Consultant - 2018 - Choosing the Right Accountant or Tax Preparer
The Consultant - 2018 - The History of Forestry in Ireland
The Consultant - 2018 - 49
The Consultant - 2018 - 50
The Consultant - 2018 - 51
The Consultant - 2018 - The American Oak Project Midleton Distillery Creates Rare Irish Whiskey to Promote Sustainable Forestry
The Consultant - 2018 - 53
The Consultant - 2018 - 54
The Consultant - 2018 - 55
The Consultant - 2018 - Products & Services Marketplace
The Consultant - 2018 - 57
The Consultant - 2018 - 58
The Consultant - 2018 - 59
The Consultant - 2018 - Index of Advertisers
The Consultant - 2018 - 61
The Consultant - 2018 - Why not Surround Yourself with the Best?
The Consultant - 2018 - cover3
The Consultant - 2018 - cover4
The Consultant - 2018 - outsert1
The Consultant - 2018 - outsert2
The Consultant - 2018 - outsert3
The Consultant - 2018 - outsert4
The Consultant - 2018 - outsert5
The Consultant - 2018 - outsert6
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