This is a guest post from “Bruce the Tax Guy”. Whether it be a doctor, plumber, or accountant, everyone hires a professional at some point in their lives. Knowing what to look for and what questions to ask can save you a lot of time and money.

Finding a Pro:

I’m back but this time I’m not talking taxes. This time I would like to point out a few things everyone should know and use when they need a professional. Professional what? Why any kind of professional. (An Accountant, a Lawyer, a Doctor, a Tax Preparer/ Advisor, mechanic, a plumber.) I am about to share some very important guide lines for finding yourself a professional.

Most people just pick a listing from the phone book. Not the greatest idea. You need to make sure the professional you are hiring is right for the job. Let’s say you are pregnant. You need a doctor, but not just any doctor. You need an Obstetrician. A Podiatrist can’t do the job. Same in reverse, if you break your foot you are not going to the Obstetrician’s office, are you? I think not.

On my site I have dedicated two pages to this (for my field) but the basics are there for any professional. On my page Finding a Qualified Tax Preparer I suggest you call around and ask questions. First, get references from friends, if you can. Then visit with the intended professional. Here are some general questions to ask:

  • What type of training do you have?
  • Do you belong to any professional groups?
  • How long have you been in this kind of work?
  • Have you ever dealt with my situation before? (this is a biggy)
  • Have you ever been disciplined by any government authority for malpractice?
  • How much do you charge, and how do you calculate your fees?

At this point you get a little more pointed about your questions and the type of professional you are looking for.

This may seem kind of rude but you are about to spend a lot of money on a professional, make sure they are what you need. When you choose the wrong plumber you may not get your problem fixed the first time and the guy has to come back. Or picking a bad mechanic can damage your car, or worse. If you are on trial for murder you didn’t commit; do you think a divorce lawyer is going to be your best choice?

And my favorite; in the case of filing a tax return, most folks just assume all accountants, CPA’s, or tax preparers are the same. But, just like most other professional services, nothing could be further from the truth. Each tax professional has certain qualifications. I point out on another page on my site, The 5 biggest mistakes made while looking for a tax professional, what to look for in this situation.

Too many people don’t match up what they want/ need with the strengths of a paid professional. Most people know what they want when they are looking for someone to help them; they just don’t take the small amount of time necessary to find the best qualified person for them or their situation.

pic by: Andyrob

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