Tips for Hiring a CPA

How should a church quickly find an attorney or CPA when the need arises?

Church treasurers often do not know where to begin when faced with the need to hire a CPA. Here are some tips that may help:

1) If you are looking for a CPA to perform an audit, then a good place to start is by contacting other churches in your community that have annual audits and obtain references. You can learn a lot through such contacts.

2) Ask CPAs how many churches they audit. If they don’t audit any, then ask if they audit any nonprofit organizations. Ideally, you will want to stick with a CPA firm with experience auditing churches.

3) If you cannot find a local CPA firm with experience auditing churches, you should consider hiring a CPA firm from out-of-town. There are a few excellent regional and national CPA firms that have experience auditing churches. Their fees may be higher because of the travel that is involved, but the higher cost must be weighed against their expertise.

4) You should identify a few candidates for an auditing job, and then solicit bids from them.

5) Often, one or more members of the church board will be acquainted with a local CPA. This should not necessarily be the basis for hiring that person, especially if he or she lacks experience in working with churches.

6) For hiring someone to help with tax return preparation, be sure to do homework on the preparer’s background. A great place to start is the Internal Revenue Service’s online directory, which provides names and preparer tax identification numbers for the attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, and others who meet the IRS’s voluntary annual filing-season program requirements.

Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.
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