Certified public accountants, or CPAs, are highly trained finance and accounting professionals who are knowledgeable about accounting and the government regulations that affect your money. Some CPAs offer all kinds of services to their clients, while others specialize in specific areas such as tax preparation for individuals and businesses, estate planning, auditing, forensic accounting and financial management. There are various ways of going about finding the right CPA.
Figure out the specific services you need from a CPA. It may just be that you need someone to prepare your taxes, or maybe you need more detailed accounting and financial work. Knowing exactly what you need ahead of time will help you find the CPA with the right specialty and experience.
Check with your local chamber of commerce. If you want to hire a local CPA, check with your chamber of commerce as they will likely have information on all the professionals in your area.
Use an online search tool. There are online directories that help you search for CPAs anywhere in the country. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has one, as does CPA Directory (see Resources).
Confirm CPAs' reputations and credentials. When you have a short list of CPAs you are interested in hiring, it helps to look them up in the public record to ensure that they have a good reputation and history. You can check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them. You can also do a simple web search to see if there are any negative comments about them online. You should also interview candidates before deciding on a specific CPA.
Ask for referrals. Ask your network of friends, family and acquaintances for referrals to CPAs with whom they have successfully done business.